related illnesses
related illnesses

How does food packaging impact obesity in Canada?

The size of food images on product packaging plays a key role in exacerbating diet-related illnesses and obesity.

In 2018, Statistics Canada reported that nearly one in three Canadians were obese. Similar figures have been reported in Australia, but more concerning is the United States, where over forty percent of the population is obese.

Obesity is not the only diet-related illness to be concerned about — diabetes is just as prevalent. When it comes to such diseases, diet and physical activity help reduce the chance of being diagnosed. In fact, when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, diet and physical activity can prevent 50 per cent of it.

Food packaging plays an important role in diet-related illnesses. We live in a food environment that prioritizes marketing, sometimes to the detriment of our health.

Consider the average supermarket, where there can be upwards of 60,000 different products in a store. With so much competition, food marketers need to grab the attention of consumers so they buy their products, not a competitor’s. This is why product packaging is so important.

Food marketing uses a variety of tactics, like using bright, bold colours and eye-popping visuals, to try and persuade consumers to buy certain products. They also change the size of food images shown on products — the size of the chip on Doritos packaging or the size of the bread on a jar of peanut butter, for example.

Bigger is better

Our recent research looked at how something seemingly innocuous, like the size of food images on product packaging, can impact how likely it is that someone buys a product. While the size of this image might appear to be harmless, our research found that it can increase the food’s appeal to consumers: the

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