A Default Option for Health: Improving Nutrition Within the Financial and Geographic Constraints of Food Insecurity

2019-12-10 01:20:57 | BioPortfolio


Food insecurity is associated with an increased risk of obesity. The availability of a default option (i.e., option a consumer selects if no active choice is made) has been shown to effectively nudge consumer behavior. An online default option (i.e., prefilled grocery shopping cart) was previously shown to positively impact the food purchases of individuals with food insecurity.The present study aims to extend these findings bye examining efficacy of an online default option in enhancing the nutritional quality of online grocery purchases in individuals with food insecurity over the course of a month.


Food insecurity is associated with an increased risk of obesity and weight-related illnesses. The present study is the first longitudinal randomized control trial to examine if an online prefilled grocery shopping cart (i.e., a default cart) nudges individuals with food insecurity to purchase healthier groceries compared to receiving nutrition education.

It was hypothesized that the prefilled online grocery shopping cart (i.e., default condition) will result in a significant improvement in the nutritional quality of groceries purchased compared to those receiving nutrition education.

Thirty-eight food pantry users recruited from food pantries in New York in 2018 were enrolled in the present study and were given $48.50 to purchase groceries weekly using an online grocery website for five weeks. At baseline, participants were instructed to purchase groceries keeping in mind nutrition, cost, and taste. For the subsequent four weeks (T1-T4), participants were randomized to receive 1) nutrition education or 2) a prefilled online grocery shopping cart that met their nutritional needs based on age and sex (Default).

Our primary nutritional outcomes included HEI scores, calories (kcal), and energy density (kcal/grams).

Study Design


Food Selection


Default Option, Nutrition Education


University at Albany, SUNY
New York
United States




University at Albany

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-12-10T01:20:57-0500

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