Being aware of external drivers that help overeaters gain or lose weight, from advertising to shopping, can help them control their weight more effectively. New guidelines to this effect are in the making.
Overeating and obesity have seen unprecedented rises in the EU leading to diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and subsequently increased mortality rates. The EU-funded project FOOD Intake Control is developing effective intervention strategies to facilitate self control. The project has underlined environmental cues that lead to overeating and is supporting policies to stimulate environments in order to curb the phenomenon.
To achieve its aims the project team is examining all the cues and specific time periods involved in the lack of self control and overeating. It has successfully conducted experiments that reveal consumption norms, portion sizes and the role of advertising in weight gain. Studies have also been conducted on snacks and meals eaten outside the home, as well as on overeaters' regulatory mechanisms used to alleviate their guilt and reduce weight quickly.
Armed with the results of these observations, the project is evaluating new intervention strategies that promote a person's self-regulatory ability to tackle overeating. It is outlining policy recommendations that help diminish unhealthy food impulses and strengthen self control. One of these recommendations involves nudging the consumer towards targeting healthier options outside the home such as canteens and health-oriented stores, without limiting freedom of choice.
So far, the project has published two papers in this respect with more on the way. There have also been efforts to disseminate the project results through blogs, the media, conferences and seminars. This action-oriented research approach on self control can play an important role in Europe's experimental food research and contribute to the well-being of overweight people around the globe.
Information Source: Result from the EU funded FP7-PEOPLE programme