Photo: SpecialKRB, Flickr
If you're trying to eat healthy, put down that debit card.
New research shows that customers are less likely to buy unhealthy foods if they use cash than if they pay with credit or debit cards for groceries, according to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
Over the course of six months, researchers from Cornell University and the State University of New York in Binghamton and Buffalo followed 1,000 households, analyzing their shopping behavior. Their study found that when the shoppers paid with credit or debit cards instead of cash, they put more junk food in their shopping carts, the study showed.
Why does health go out the window when paying with plastic?
"Cash payments are psychologically more painful than card payments, and this pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses to buy unhealthy food items," the authors said in the study, published in the coming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, BusinessWeek reported.
"The notion that mode of payment can curb impulsive purchase of unhealthy food products is substantially important. The epidemic increase in obesity suggests that regulating impulsive purchases and consumption of unhealthy food products is a steep challenge for many consumers," the researchers said.
Manoj Thomas, Kalpesh Kaushik Desai and Satheeshkumar Seenivasan, authors of the study, suggested people may change their behavior if they knew they made different choices when paying with credit versus paying with cash, BusinessWeek reported.
They also speculated that there may be a link between changing payment behaviors and the rise of obesity in the U.S.