Will Shopping without a Grocery List Make You Fat?

Americans are suffering from chronic cases of obesity. Some researchers believe that shopping with a grocery list will increase healthy eating and lead to a reduction in obesity in shoppers. A recent survey of over 1,300 overweight residents in primarily poor African American communities, indicated that people who regularly made shopping lists generally made higher quality food choices and weighed less. Still researchers admit they can’t say if people who are healthier pay attention to what they eat, or if people with grocery lists plan better and are healthier as a result.

Researchers at RAND Corporation conducted a study which noted that the dietary quality was significantly higher in people who always shopped with a list.  Researchers also started to follow residents to see if the placement of a grocery store into a community would change the eating habits of inhabitants. However, they also note that making healthy food choices could be hindered by high food prices and lack of grocery stores in poor areas. But changing pricing and locations would require large, structural changes. These two structural issues did apply to study participants who were both overweight and slightly overweight. This indicates that there are factors other than a grocery list that may affect consumer health.

Dr. Jason Block of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute thinks that the one-point difference in BMI between participants with and without grocery lists, shows that some other behavior not included in the study may explain the change.

If anything, the study makes a moderate correlation between advance planning of grocery items and impulse buys that are more likely to happen without a list. More and more grocery stores are configuring products and the aisles to entice consumers to make more unhealthy impulse buys. This strategy would be far less effective if consumers had a grocery list and stuck to it.

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