Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among male university students in an ad libitum buffet setting: A choice architectural nudge intervention

Food Quality and Preference, Elsevier, ISSN 1873-6343

Volume 49, 2016

DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.12.006, Dimensions: pub.1004781385,



  1. (1) Integrated Food Studies, Aalborg University-Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. (2) Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. (3) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






Insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables (F&V) is associated with an increased risk of non-communicable diseases in the population. Several studies show a potential effect of promoting healthy eating by reorganizing the physical environment. However the evidence of the effect is ambiguous due to the complexity of determinants for food choices and more research is therefore needed. This study assessed the of a choice architectural intervention aimed at reducing energy density of meals consumed by male university students, by proportionally increasing their vegetable consumption.A single one-day lunch meal study was conducted in a FoodScape Laboratory where an Intelligent Buffet was used to register the exact weight of each meal component self-served by each participant. A convenience sample of 65 men was divided to a control group (n=32) and an intervention group (n=33). The choice architecture in the intervention group consisted of altering the serving sequence and serving the F&V components in eight separate bowls. The self-served quantity (g) of meal components was measured using state-of-the-art equipment. Additionally a two-part questionnaire was used to obtain individual background information.The quantity (g) of self-served F&V was significantly higher in the intervention group (+63.3g, p=.005). The total energy (kJ) was significantly lower in the intervention group (−1326.3kJ, p=.010), while there was no significant difference in the total amount (g) of self-served food between the two groups (−50.4g p=.326). This emphasizes that the relative proportion of F&V/non-F&V changes as a result of the intervention.This study found convincing evidence for combining order of placement in a buffet and separating the fruits and vegetables, as a means to increase the quantity of self-served fruit and vegetables and decrease consumption of other meal components among male university students. Such simple choice architecture interventions could be used as a supplement to already existing strategies in the promotion of healthy eating.

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