- Researchers find grocery spending increases by 15% during holiday season
- Only a quarter of that extra spend is on healthy foods
- Despite New Year’s resolutions, just as much junk food is purchased after the hols
People take home more calories in their shopping after the holidays than during, a study by the University of Vermont has revealed. Researchers tracked 207 households in New York for seven months – August 2010 to February 2011, inclusive – and established their purchasing patterns at different times of the year.
To show the dramatic shift in spending, August to Thanksgiving (end of November) was established as the baseline or “normal” shopping period. Thanksgiving to New Year’s was seen as the “holiday season” and the remainder represented the “post-holiday season” for their research.
[caption id="attachment_165" align="aligncenter" width="590"] We add healthy food on top of junk in the shopping trolley come the New Year. Image credit: Daniel Miller.[/caption]
The study found that 15% more food was bought during the holiday season, but only one quarter of this was healthy food – unsurprising since most typically indulge to celebrate with family and friends. It was the second discovery of the study that raised researchers’ eyebrows.
“After the New Year, shoppers continued to purchase a greater amount of food and while more healthy food did make it into their carts, they continued to buy the less-healthy items too!” exclaims Dr Lizzy Pope, lead author of the study.
In fact, despite the best of New Year’s intentions, people took home 9% more calories than during the holiday season. Dr Drew Hanks, co-author of the study, indicated that consumers held on to their unhealthy favourites after the holiday season and simply added more healthy foods to their shopping lists.
For those wanting to break the vicious junk-food spending cycle in the New Year, he adds “What we recommend based on these findings is instead of just adding healthy foods to your cart, substitute the less healthy foods for fresh produce and other nutrient rich foods--the calories will add up slower and you'll be more likely to meet your resolutions and shed those unwanted pounds.”