Breaking Bad Habits: How Marketing Incentives Can Lead to Healthy Food Choices

9153746729_9fb261fcdf_zThe rise of processed foods in the past century has brought with it a rising tide of health concerns. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have all been linked to diets high in fat, sodium, and sugar, leading many to seek out healthier alternatives. But making the switch from cookies and potato chips to broccoli and apples is easier said than done–so how can consumers start to make better food choices? A recent article from published in Cornell Hospitality Quarterlyentitled “McHealthy: How Marketing Incentives Influence Healthy Food Choices” delves into how certain marketing incentives can help consumers break their unhealthy habits and make better choices. Authors Elisa K. Chan, Robert Kwortnik, and Brian Wansink specifically compare the efficacy of behavioral rewards versus financial discounts in motivating individuals to change their eating habits. The abstract for the article:

Food choices are often habitual, which can perpetuate Current Issue Coverunhealthy behaviors; that is, selection of foods high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories. This article extends previous research by examining how marketing incentives can encourage healthy food choices. Building on research examining marketing incentives, temporal goals, and habitual behavior, this research shows that certain incentives (behavioral rewards vs. financial discounts) affect individuals with healthy and less healthy eating habits differently. A field study conducted at a corporate cafeteria and three lab studies converge on a consistent finding: The effects of marketing incentives on healthy food choice are particularly prominent for people who have less healthy eating habits. Results showed that behavioral rewards generated a 28.5% (vs. 5.5%) increase in salad sales; behavioral rewards also led to 2 pounds more weight loss for individuals with less healthy eating habits. The research offers important implications for scholars, the food industry, consumers, governments, and policy makers.

You can read “McHealthy: How Marketing Incentives Influence Healthy Food Choices” from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from Cornell Hospitality QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Sonny Abesamis (CC)

Book Review: Selling Our Souls: The Commodification of Hospital Care in the United States

bookjacketSelling Our Souls: The Commodification of Hospital Care in the United States. By Adam D. Reich Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014. 248 pp. ISBN 978-0-6911-60405, $39.50

Nick Krachler recently published a book review in ILR ReviewAn excerpt from the review:

Reich’s main focus is on the institutional legacies that shape how the people working in his cases reconcile the contradictions between their non-economic values and market pressures. The former public hospital’s contradiction is between the scarcity of resources and the practice of providing extensive uncompensated care to underinsured and uninsured patients. The people in this hospital view care as a social right, and Reich interprets their disregard for efficiency and profitability as rebuffing market pressures. In the Catholic hospital, the contradiction is between the values of sacrifice and dignity, with which many in the hospital identify, and management’s Current Issue Covermarketing of these values to attract high-paying patients, the treatment of uninsured patients with little dignity, and the lowest wages for nurses and ancillary workers among the three cases studied. Reich interprets this case as moralizing market pressures. In the integrated health management organization, customized care according to each patient’s special needs contradicts the organization’s prevailing operating principle of standardizing and rationing care by scaling up efficient practices. Reich interprets this case as taming market pressures through the use of bureaucracy and big data. The author lays out these three types of moral–market relationships by examining the conception of care, the structure of physicians’ work, and the power and division of labor between physicians, nurses, and ancillary workers including the role of labor relations in each of the cases. Another interesting argument in the book is that these three different moral–market relationships correspond to three different historical periods. I find Reich’s well-grounded discussion and critique of the three models highly persuasive.

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How Does Job Displacement Impact Heart Health?

[We’re pleased to welcome Paul Devereux of University College Dublin. Paul recently published an article in ILR Review entitled “Losing Heart? The Effects of Job Displacement on Health” with co-76765412_618a458105_zauthors Sandra E. Black of University of Texas, Austin and Kjell G. Salvanes of Norwegian School of Economics.]

The growth and decline of firms is a prevalent feature of market economies and it is important to understand the consequences for workers who are displaced. While a lot is known about earnings losses, less is understood about consequences for health. Norway provides an interesting laboratory in which to consider the effects of displacement on health because, due to the strong social safety net, the income losses from job displacement are much lower than in most other countries and so we can largely isolate the effects of stress and lower labor market participation. Job displacement increases stress, which is known to have negative effects on cardiovascular health, for instance through individual life-style changes (increased consumption of nicotine, alcohol and dietary changes), or changes in biological parameters (increase in cholesterol concentration and cortisol). ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointAdditionally, the lower employment rates post-displacement could have direct effects on health through affecting daily activities such as exercise or opportunities to smoke.

Consistent with our expectations of increased stress, we find that displaced workers are more likely to smoke than workers who maintain their employment. As a result, job displacement has a significant effect on markers for cardiovascular health. However, there is little evidence of effects of displacement on other measures of short-run health. Therefore, the results suggest that when the financial costs of displacement are very low, the health effects may also be muted. However, our smoking findings indicate that the psychic costs may still matter and may lead to unhealthy behaviors that are predicted to have adverse consequences on cardiovascular health in the long-run.

The abstract for the paper:

Job reallocation is considered a key characteristic of well-functioning labor markets, as more productive firms grow and less productive ones contract or close. Despite its potential benefits for the economy, however, costs that are borne by the displaced workers are significant. The authors study how job displacement in Norway affects cardiovascular health, using a sample of men and women who are predominantly in their early 40s. To do so, they merge survey data on health and health behaviors with register data on person and firm characteristics. The authors compare the health of displaced and non-displaced workers from five years before to seven years after displacement. Results show that job displacement leads to an increase in smoking behavior for both men and women but few other short-term health effects. These results are robust to a variety of specification checks.

You can read “Losing Heart? The Effects of Job Displacement on Health” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

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*Heart monitor image credited to brykmantra (CC)

Sandra E. BlackSandra E. Black holds the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Centennial Chair in Economics and Public Affairs and is a Professor of Economics.  She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University.  Since that time, she worked as an Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and an Assistant, Associate, and ultimately Professor in the Department of Economics at UCLA before arriving at the University of Texas, Austin in 2010. She currently is the Editor of the Journal of Human Resources, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a Research Affiliate at IZA.  Her research focuses on the role of early life experiences on the long-run outcomes of children, as well as issues of gender and discrimination. She is currently on leave to serve as a Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Kjell G. Salvanes is a Professor at the Norwegian School of Economics. He is Joint Managing Editor for The Economic Journal, as well as a research fellow with CEPR, Statistic Norway and director of Center for Empirical Labor Economics (CELE). His work has been published in journals like Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of the European Economic Association and Review of Economics and Statistics.


Paul J. Devereux is a Professor at the School of Economics, University College Dublin. Dr. Devereux did his PhD at Northwestern University and worked at UCLA before moving to UCD in 2005.


Top Five: Social Marketing

Does compassion make dieters more likely to lose weight? What stops people from recycling? Could an anti-drinking Facebook campaign change a student’s life? Find out these answers and more by reading the current top five most-read articles from Social Marketing Quarterly. These papers are free to access through June 26 using the links below. Please share and enjoy!

SMQ_v19n2_72ppiRGB_150pixWErika Beseler Thompson, Frank Heley, Laura Oster-Aaland, Sherri Nordstrom Stastny, and Elizabeth Crisp Crawford
The Impact of a Student-Driven Social Marketing Campaign on College Student Alcohol-Related Beliefs and Behaviors
March 2013

Jill Jesson
Household Waste Recycling Behavior: A Market Segmentation Model
June 2009

Martine Stead, Lisa Arnott, and Emma Dempsey
Healthy Heroes, Magic Meals, and a Visiting Alien: Community-Led Assets-Based Social Marketing
March 2013

Robert Forbus and Jason L. Snyder
Use of Comforting to Enhance Social Marketing Success: A Case Study
June 2013

Daniel Hayden and Fangzhou Deng
The Science of Goal Setting: A Practitioner’s Guide to Goal Setting in the Social Marketing of Conservation
March 2013

Click here to see the current issue of SMQ, and stay abreast of the latest articles covering the efforts of social marketers to protect the environment and increase health, safety and financial well-being: subscribe to the SMQ RSS feed, and click here if you’d like to receive e-alerts about new articles and issues published online before they’re in print.

College Drinking Prevention: A Social Marketing Approach

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Erika Beseler Thompson, assistant director for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs at North Dakota State University. Her article, “The Impact of a Student-Driven Social Marketing Campaign on College Student Alcohol-Related Beliefs and Behaviors,” co-authored by Frank Heley, Laura Oster-Aaland, Sherri Nordstrom Stastny, and Elizabeth Crisp Crawford, all of NDSU, was published in the March 2013 issue of Social Marketing Quarterly.

smqIn the spring of 2010, the NDSU President’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs enlisted the help of communication students in Dr. Elizabeth Crawford’s advertising practicum course to create a social marketing campaign that focuses on reducing the consequences of students’ high-risk drinking decisions. This “Before One More” campaign was intended to help students understand when one more drink can become one too many, and teaches them how to make lower-risk decisions related to alcohol consumption.

The council was thrilled to have students involved in the creation and implementation of this campaign and felt this involvement and the resultant enthusiasm would lead to a more impactful campaign and reductions in high-risk drinking behaviors. We decided to assess the campaign to determine whether it was impactful in its current form or if changes were needed.

The study findings confirmed what we had suspected – using students to tailor socially relevant messages for their peers led to increased acceptance and fit of the message. Unsurprisingly, we also found that the more interactive elements of the campaign were more engaging to students and those students who were already low or moderate-risk drinkers (versus abstainers or high-risk drinkers) were most affected by the campaign messages.

The results of this study have been used to make changes to the “Before One More” campaign to increase its appeal and effectiveness with our students.

Click here to read the paper, “The Impact of a Student-Driven Social Marketing Campaign on College Student Alcohol-Related Beliefs and Behaviors,” in Social Marketing Quarterly.

Work Stress and Health: New Journal of Management Collection

The Journal of Management (JOM) has a new Editor’s Choice collection on the topic of Work Stress and Health, with all articles free to access now through March 24.

JOM recently found that about 7% of full-time workers experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. And according to the APA’s latest Stress in America survey, stressed-out workers aren’t getting the health care that they need. Articles in this collection explore this important topic in depth and offer practical implications for individuals and organizations.

The collection includes, among other articles:

JOM_v38_72ppiRGB_150pixWDaniel C. Ganster and Christopher C. Rosen
Work Stress and Employee Health: A Multidisciplinary Review

James A. Meurs and Pamela L. Perrewé
Cognitive Activation Theory of Stress: An Integrative Theoretical Approach to Work Stress

Brent A. Scott and Timothy A. Judge
Insomnia, Emotions, and Job Satisfaction: A Multilevel Study

Click here to see more Editor’s Choice collections from JOM.

Video: Building Partnerships With Social Marketing

How can you develop successful partnership efforts that help your organization become one that others seek to engage?

In this video Q&A, Social Marketing Quarterly (SMQ) co-editor Lynne Doner Lotenberg and Darcy Sawatzki, both of Hager Sharp, talk about bringing ‘Best Bones Forever’ — a national bone health campaign targeting U.S. tween girls — to life through partnership building. They explain why partnerships are so important to such programs, which aim to be catalysts for change.

Read their article, “Building Partnerships to Build the Best Bones Forever! : Applying the 4Ps to Partnership Development,” co-authored with Ann Abercrombie of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in SMQ’s March 2012 edition. To learn more about Social Marketing Quarterly, please follow this link.

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