Financial Dissatisfaction Makes You Eat More Calories

Dec 16, 2013, 10:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Dec. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- People experiencing financial dissatisfaction choose more caloric food and consume larger food amounts than people who are financially satisfied.


The authors put forward that financially dissatisfied people may try to replenish their need for financial resources by consuming caloric resources or food energy because money and food are closely related, exchangeable resources. Five experiments tested this assumption. For instance, people who were made to believe that they had relatively little money ate more brownies and estimated the caloric content of foods differently compared to people feeling financially satisfied. Overall, the results show that financial dissatisfied people chose more caloric food options and consumed larger food amounts than financial satisfied people because of an increased desire for food energy, not because of the good taste.

The findings provide new insights for public policy and managerial practices. According to this research, stressing the energy content of food could induce financially dissatisfied people to choose more caloric options, whereas highlighting its tastiness would have less of an effect. Conversely, presenting healthful food as a source of energy might make these food items more attractive to financially dissatisfied people. Thus, this research demonstrates the importance of investigating energy considerations in food intake.

While marketing researchers have increasingly investigated the interplay of taste and health considerations, including the pleasures of eating and the conflict between the short-term goal of indulging in tasty food and the long-term pursuit of health, this research highlights that energy considerations can also help explain people's food choices and consumption amounts. Specifically, the results show that people may choose and consume food for its energy value when experiencing financial dissatisfaction.

The analysis appears in the December 2013 issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research.

"Counter intuitively, one of our studies  implies that advertising the good taste of food products, rather than their energy content, might be less harmful for people who are not satisfied with their monetary resources. Perhaps positioning fruit and vegetables as energy providers instead of healthful foods could increase the share of these food categories in consumers' shopping basket," write authors Barbara Briers and Sandra Laporte.

The finding that experiencing financial dissatisfaction can make food energy more desirable may provide new insights as to why poor people are especially vulnerable to being overweight and obese.

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SOURCE American Marketing Association