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Cass marketing study shows that healthy 'primes' boost dieting willpower

Health-related images and words help participants resist unhealthy snacks

People exposed to healthy 'primes', such as healthy images and words, are more able resist unhealthy snacks later in the day, suggests new research by Cass Senior Marketing Lecturer Professor Paul Connell.

Professor Connell worked on the study, titled Time of day effects on the regulation of food consumption after activation of health goals, with marketing experts Professor Wendy Boland, Kogod School of Business, part of American University and Dr Beth Vallen, of the Fordham School of Business.

The research demonstrates that exposure to healthy images and words can subconsciously activate an individual's latent health goals and boost their falling levels of self-regulation.

Published in high-ranking nutrition and dietetics journal Appetite, the paper contains findings especially relevant to food marketers, the media and the government.

Professor Connell said: "The timings of healthy advertisements and public service messages can be optimised in order to help people adhere to healthier lifestyles by boosting their levels of self-regulation over the course of the day,"

"Our research can also help those seeking to identify and mitigate the influence of food-related environmental cues on overconsumption."

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