The prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased dramatically over the last few decades, especially in Europe. In addition to genetic determinants, societal changes, worldwide nutrition trends, and market forces, like larger serving sizes, are often cited as driving the obesity epidemic. Together, these trends created an ‘obesogenic environment’ characterized by a multitude of unhealthy and easily accessible temptations which led to an enormous increase in the consumption of fattening snacks. Health organizations and consumers themselves introduce and apply strategies to reduce the temptation strength of unhealthy foods (e.g. stimulating low-fat products and rationing the purchase quantities) because they belief they can combat the obesity epidemic in this way. A number of academic findings supports this belief by showing that exposure to palatable foods activates a craving for food and stimulates eating behavior. However, some recent studies demonstrate that some of these activities can backfire because temptations may also activate counteractive self-control helping individuals stick to their goals. In sum, conflicting findings exist on the effect of food temptations on consumers’ ability to control their food intake, which urge for proper investigation in order to get a deeper insight in the effects and processes underlying them. We will start by looking at social psychological theories that can give insights in which factors determine the direction of the effect of food temptations on consumers’ self-control which will result in an adaptation of the psychological model into a consumer behavior oriented model. In a next step, the adapted model will be tested in a meta-analytic study. It is of high importance for public policy and marketers to know under which conditions food temptations (dis)enhance self-control. In this way, the findings can be used for the development of more efficient strategies to combat the obesity epidemic.
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