Nutrition News

Grocery Lists Help Shoppers Maintain A Healthy Weight, Study Suggests

A recent study shows that ‘arming’ yourself with a shopping list when going to the grocery store makes it easier to follow a healthy diet and maintain a lower body mass index (BMI).

The study was published on May 7 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior with the objective of determining whether the use of a grocery list has any association with a healthier diet among food desert residents, or those who must travel 10 kilometers or more to reach a supermarket.

Researchers surveyed 1,372 people with low income and limited access to healthy foods, primarily from African American urban neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They found that shoppers who had grocery lists made higher quality food choices and had lower body weights.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Tamara Dubowitz” author_title=”Researcher at RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh and study’s lead author”]

We don’t know whether people who are healthier pay more attention to what they eat and pay more attention to their weight and are also people who do more planning, or if people who do more planning are more able to avoid impulse purchases and the less healthy options presented to them at the supermarket. (…) We can say there is a link but we can’t say what causes it.


According to the study, less than one third of the participants said they always shopped with a grocery list, while 17 percent did so often and 22 percent did so occasionally. People who used grocery lists all the time were less likely to be unemployed and more likely to be trying to eat fewer calories.

According to the Huffington Post, more than one third of U.S. adults are obese, which places them at increased risk of heart stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Ichiro Kawachi” author_title=”Chair of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston”]

The typical supermarket these days is carefully engineered so that they are constantly tempting customers to make impulse purchases and unwise food choices, such as placing candies at the checkout. Having a plan and sticking to it is a good start to pre-committing yourself to a healthy purchase pattern.


An unrelated study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on May 4, suggests that eating fructose rich foods further increases appetite which leads to additional weight gain. According to the study, eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can actually increase hunger.

Do you use a shopping list when you go to the grocery store to buy food?

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