Turnwald, B.P., Handley-Miner, I.J., Samuels, N.A., Markus, H.R., & Crum, A.J. (2021). Nutritional analysis of foods and beverages depicted in top-grossing US movies, 1994-2018. JAMA Internal Medicine, 181, 1-10. | OSF data and code
Question: How healthy are the foods and beverages in top-grossing American movies?
What we learned: Across 15,000 foods and beverages, the movie-depicted diet failed U.S. federal recommendations for saturated fat, fiber, and sodium, and featured 16% higher sugar content and 313% higher alcoholic content than Americans actually consume.
Why it matters: Depicting unhealthy foods and beverages in media is a sociocultural problem that extends beyond advertisements. Movies represent a high-impact opportunity to promote healthy consumption if producers expand the range of foods depicted.
Turnwald, B.P., Anderson, K.G., Jurafsky, D., & Crum, A.J. (2020). Five-star prices, appealing healthy item descriptions? Expensive restaurants’ descriptive menu language. Health Psychology, 39, 975-985. | Supplementary Material | OSF data and materials
Question: Do high status restaurants describe healthy foods with more appealing words than standard menu items? How does this compare to lower status restaurants?
What we learned: Across 160 expensive restaurant menus from 8 U.S. cities, vegetables and salads were described with fewer American, exciting, artisanal, tasty, and size words than standard items. However, unlike inexpensive restaurants, expensive restaurants did not use health-focused words (e.g., “nutritious”).
Why it matters: Describing healthy items with fewer appealing words than standard foods could lead customers to perceive healthy choices as less appealing. Differences in appealing words were more pronounced in lower status restaurants.
Turnwald, B.P., Bertoldo, J.D., Perry, M.A., Policastro, P., Timmons, M., Bosso, C., Connors, P., Valgenti, R.T., Pine, L., Challamel, G., Gardner, C.D., & Crum, A.J. (2019). Increasing vegetable intake by emphasizing tasty and enjoyable attributes: A randomized controlled multi-site intervention for taste-focused labeling. Psychological Science, 30, 1603-1615.
Supplementary Material | OSF data, preregistrations, code, and materials
Question: Does taste-focused labeling increase vegetable consumption in a multi-site replication experiment?
What we learned: Replicating our prior work, this large experiment showed that labeling vegetables as tasty and enjoyable, instead of as health-focused, increased vegetable intake by 29% across 138,000 diner decisions from 5 university dining halls. Followup studies tested mechanisms, moderators, and boundaries.
Why it matters: Changing healthy food labels to emphasize taste and enjoyment is a scalable, low-cost intervention to increase healthy eating.
Turnwald, B.P., Goyer, J.P., Boles, D.Z., Silder, A., Delp, S., & Crum, A.J. (2019). Learning one’s genetic risk changes physiology independent of actual genetic risk. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 48-56. | Supplementary Material | OSF data and open materials
Question: Does merely learning that you have a genetic risk change your thoughts, behaviors, and physiology in self-fulfilling ways?
What we learned: Whether participants learned that they had high-risk or protective versions of genes related to obesity, merely receiving that information changed their cardiorespiratory and gut peptide physiology, endurance, and perceived fullness in a self-fulfilling manner.
Why it matters: If conveying genetic risk information can alter actual risk, we must reconsider thresholds for when revealing genetic risk actually benefits health.
Turnwald, B.P., & Crum, A.J. (2019). Smart food policy for healthy food labeling: Leading with taste, not healthiness, to shift consumption and enjoyment of healthy foods. Preventive Medicine, 119, 7-13. | Supplementary Material | OSF data and open materials
Question: Does labeling vegetables as tasty and enjoyable harness principles of smart food policy?
What we learned: 4 field studies of over 4,000 diners showed that tailoring healthy food to peoples’ preferences increased the number of people choosing vegetables, sustained vegetarian lunch purchases over 2 months, and improved the experienced taste of vegetables compared with health-focused labels.
Why it matters: Labels that emphasize how tasty and enjoyable vegetables are harness multiple principles of smart food policy to increase choice and enjoyment of healthy foods.
Crum, A.J., Akinola, M., Turnwald, B.P., Kaptchuk, T.J., & Hall, K.T. (2018). Catechol-O-Methyl-transferase moderates effect of stress mindset on affect and cognition. PLoS One, 13, e0195883.
Question: Do people respond more or less effectively to mindset interventions based on their genotype?
What we learned: Individual variation in the COMT gene, which plays a role in placebo effects, moderated how effective a stress mindset intervention was for emotional and cognitive function during stress.
Why it matters: Genetic factors impact the efficacy of mindset interventions.
Turnwald, B.P., Boles, D.Z., & Crum, A.J. (2017). Association between indulgent descriptions and vegetable consumption: Twisted carrots and dynamite beets. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177, 1216-18. | OSF data and open materials
Question: Does emphasizing taste and enjoyment increase vegetable choice more than emphasizing health qualities?
What we learned: Across 46 days and 28,000 diner decisions, emphasizing tasty and enjoyable attributes of vegetables increased vegetable choice by 25-41%.
Why it matters: This novel, low-cost intervention increases healthy choices and challenges existing approaches that primarily emphasize nutrition information.
Turnwald, B.P., Jurafsky, D., Conner, A., & Crum, A.J. (2017). Reading between the menu lines: are restaurants’ descriptions of “healthy” foods unappealing? Health Psychology, 36, 1034-1037. | Supplementary Material | OSF data and open materials.
Question: Are healthy foods described with appealing words at popular U.S. restaurants?
What we learned: Across 44,000 words, items in “healthy” menu sections were described with fewer tasty, exciting, fun, indulgent, and provocative words than items on the rest of the menu.
Why it matters: Describing the most nutritious menu options in less appealing terms may perpetuate beliefs that healthy foods are not flavorful or indulgent, and may undermine customers’ healthy choices.
Turnwald, B.P., & Crum, A.J. The taste-focused labeling intervention. In G. M. Walton & A. J. Crum (Eds.). Handbook of Wise Interventions: How Social-Psychological Insights Can Help Solve Problems, Guilford Press: New York. In Press.
What we learned: This chapter outlines the psychological theory, mechanisms, moderators, experimental results, and step-by-step toolkit resources for effectively implementing taste-focused labeling to increase healthy food choices.
Why it matters: This chapter allows anyone who makes decisions about what others eat to use taste-focused labeling as a means to improve healthy eating in real-world settings.
Manuscripts Under Review and In Preparation
Boles, D.Z., DeSousa, M., Turnwald, B.P., Duarte, T., Horii, R., Markus, H., & Crum, A.J. Can being healthy be fun and indulgent instead of boring and depriving? The role of mindsets in motivating health behaviors. Under review.
Turnwald, B.P., Perry, M., Jurgens, D., Prabhakaran, V., Jurafsky, D., Markus, H.M., & Crum, A.J. Healthy food cast as unappealing in language of American movies, television, restaurants, government websites, and users on social media. In prep.
Turnwald, B.P., Anderson K.G, & Crum, A.J. Nutritional analysis of foods and beverages depicted on Instagram accounts of famous athletes, music artists, and celebrities. In prep.
Turnwald, B.P., Horii, R.I., & Crum, A.J. Psychosocial context, behavior, and character demographics surrounding food depictions in 250 top-grossing American movies. In prep.
Boles, D.Z., Turnwald, B.P., Perry, M.A., & Crum, A.J. Expanding notions of healthy eating: An appeal to healthy foods that resonates with marginalized groups. In prep.