Study Finds Correlation between Preparing Grocery Lists and Weight Loss

A pound a month on average the prize for planning food purchases

A recently published piece in the Nutrition and Diabetes journal found that those who prepare a list to shop from before they hit the supermarket lose over a pound a month.

The research stems from a study by the Monash University’s Center of Health Economics, wherein researchers looked at precommitment strategies such as shopping with a list, and found the act helped facilitate greater weight loss in those who were overweight or obese.

Dr. Nicole Au, who lead the research looked at the strategies for weight loss from a relatively recent discipline entitled “behavioral economics.” The strategies involved are those that exploit human behavioral tendencies and habits that will subtly nudge them into a decision for healthier lifestyle choices in order to meet goals.

“Recent research suggests that novel strategies drawn from behavioural economics may prove to be much more effective than mainstream approaches (such as information provision) to assist individuals in making healthier lifestyle choices,” she said.

“And the good thing is some of these behavioral economic strategies can often be carried out at very low costs. Encouraging these strategies in the community could also be a cost-effective policy option for governments.”

Au stated that creation of a grocery list helped to commit shoppers into only buying the food that was directly on the list, and thereby not straying as often into impulsive buys. This led to more consistent healthy choices.

“When individuals worked with detailed meal plans and a grocery list to make the meals it could have a meaningful impact on weight loss and long-term health among overweight and obese individuals,” she said.

“We found because the planning of meals and writing of the shopping list could be carried out relatively cheaply, it was a cost-effective weight-loss tool when compared to the alternative of ‘doing nothing’.”


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