Eating an apple before buying groceries may help consumers make healthier shopping decisions. This was the finding of three studies on healthy food purchasing conducted by Aner Tal, Ph.D., and Brian Wansink, Ph.D. In the research, published in the scientific journal Psychology and Marketing, 120 shoppers were given an apple sample, a cookie sample or nothing before they began shopping. The researchers found those that ate the apple purchased 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given the cookie, and 25 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given nothing.
A related study by Tal and Wansink investigated virtual shopping decisions. After being given a cookie or an apple, 56 subjects were asked to imagine they were grocery shopping. They were shown 20 pairs of products—one healthy and the other unhealthy—and asked to select the one they would buy. Consistent with the results of the first study, those that ate the apple most often chose the healthy option.