A nudge in a healthier direction: How environmental cues help restrained eaters pursue their weight-control goal

Stämpfli, Aline E.; Stöckli, Sabrina; Brunner, Thomas (2017). A nudge in a healthier direction: How environmental cues help restrained eaters pursue their weight-control goal Appetite, 110, pp. 94-102. Elsevier 10.1016/j.appet.2016.11.037

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osing weight is a goal for many people, but it is hard to pursue. However, dieting cues in the environment hold promise for improving individuals' eating behavior. For example, exposure to thin, human-like sculptures by the artist Alberto Giacometti has been found to promote healthy snack choices at a vending machine. Whether health- or weight-related processes drive such effects has not yet been determined. However, a detailed understanding of the content-related drivers of environmental cues' effects provides the first indications regarding a cue's possible use. Therefore, two laboratory studies were conducted. They examined the Giacometti sculptures' effects on unhealthy and healthy food intake (Study 1) and on the completion of weight- and health-related fragmented words (Study 2). Study 1 indicated that the sculptures are weight-related by showing that they reduced food intake independent of food healthiness. Furthermore, the “Giacometti effect” was moderated by restrained eating. Restrained eaters, who are known for their weight-control goal, ate less after having been exposed to the thin sculptures. The results of Study 2 pointed in the same direction. Restrained eaters completed more weight-related words after being exposed to the sculptures. Overall, these studies suggest that the thin sculptures are primarily weight-related cues and particularly helpful for restrained eaters. Environmental weight-control cues such as the Giacometti sculptures could act as a counterforce to our obesogenic environment and help restrained eaters pursue their weight-control goal. In this way, they could nudge food decisions in a healthier direction.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Consumer-focused Food Production


Stämpfli, Aline E.;
Stöckli, Sabrina and
Brunner, Thomas0000-0002-6770-6548


H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)








Simon Lutz

Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2019 14:41

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:






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