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March 9, 2004

Consumer Research Frequently Cited

According to a Reuters' release, the US House of Representatives began debate in mid-March of a bill that would block lawsuits against fast-food chains from those who accuse the food industry of causing obesity. An estimated 129.6 million Americans, or 64 percent, are overweight or obese, placing them at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. According to the Surgeon General's Office in the Department of Health and Human Serices, the total direct and indirect costs, including medical costs and lost productivity, were estimated at $117 billion nationally for 2000.

Professor of Business Administration Brian Wansink is a leading consumer researcher who investigates portion size, eating habits, and the impact of food names on eating habits. He was the subject of an extensive interview and cover story in this month in Nutrition Action Healthletter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. (The cover story is only available to subscribers.)

The article notes Wansink has "spent a career studying what consumers don't notice." Said Wansink, "Many of us are reasonably diligent about what we eat, but don't put that much thought into how much we eat. People may decide to eat Chinese food instead of pizza or fruit instead of potato chips because they are healthier. But once they make that initial choise, they tend not to monitor how much they eat. And a pound of grapes isn't calorie free."

Wansink's research has been the subject of numerous articles in the past month, including:

Brian Wansink is Julian Simon Memorial Faculty Fellow in Marketing and a professor of Business Administration in the College of Business. He also has appointments in nutritional science, advertising, and agricultural and consumer economics.He is the founder and director of the Food & Brand Lab which focuses on research into "why consumers buy what they buy and eat what they eat."


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