According to a study from the University of Albany, online food shopping makes it easier to skip the junk food and purchase foods that are healthy. Ordering food online helps individuals comply with dietary goals and may even be used as a health intervention tool in the future.
The new research found that using the internet to shop for groceries results in less impulse buying and more nutritional food selection. The authors of the study pointed out that home food delivery could serve as a dietary intervention tool, and the growing use of smartphones makes this possibility even greater.
Previous research has established that individuals who are overweight are more prone to impulse buying. From this perspective, online shopping that leads to less random purchases will help curb obesity rates.
The University of Albany study contradicts the theory that online grocery shopping is unhealthy. Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer in England, warned last year that people need regular trips to the supermarket to stay active. However, the current research suggests that dodging the grocery store may lead to a healthier diet.
For the study, 60 college students were asked about their food shopping habits and impulsive tendencies. They were given $48.50 to shop for “nutritious, affordable, and tasty” food products. The study showed that all of the selections made by the students had equal nutritional value, regardless of how impulsive the students had revealed themselves to be.
“It didn’t matter how impulsive a person was, the nutritional outcomes didn’t vary,” explained lead author Jaime Coffino.
According to the Daily Mail, online food sales are expected to nearly double in England by 2020. In the United States, online grocery shopping totaled $7 billion in 2015 and is projected to hit $18 billion by 2020.
Coffino said that future studies could compare online grocery shopping with in-store grocery shopping. The results of the study were presented on August 4th at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.