Magazine article American Banker

Study Ties Card Use to Obesity

Magazine article American Banker

Study Ties Card Use to Obesity

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrea McKenna

As if the payments industry has not faced enough difficulty with new regulations and the fallout from a poor economy, a new study now links card use to obesity.

Consumers buy healthier food with cash than they do with credit and debit cards, as impulsive spending made easier when using credit and debit cards instinctively influences consumers to buy unhealthy food, the new research suggests.

In the study, marketing researchers from Cornell University and the State University of New York analyzed the shopping behaviors of 1,000 households over a six-month period. The researchers published their findings in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Two factors are contributing to the difference in the types of food consumers buy when using cash and cards, according to the report's authors:Manoj Thomas, Cornell assistant professor of marketing; Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, SUNY-Binghamton associate professor of marketing; and Satheeshkumar Seenisvasan, a doctoral candidate at SUNY-Buffalo.

"First, there is a correlation between unhealthiness and impulsiveness of food items. Unhealthy food items also tend to elicit impulsive responses," they wrote. "Second, 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 researchers found it was more difficult, or more "painful," for consumers to buy unhealthy food with cash. As such, consumers instinctively feel compelled to buy healthier food with cash, such as fat-free yogurt and whole wheat bread, they wrote. …

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