At the beginning of 2018 we started a Startup in Residency for the Gemeente Utrecht. They were looking for solutions to different problems the municipality encountered. One of those was getting people to eat healthier in sports canteens. Behavioral scientist Renske Bongers asked us to help here in coming up with a plan to use the subconscious interactions we have with our environment to steer people in a healthier direction. We, off course, jumped right in!
We started on the journey at the Graduate Space, where Nils the Witte en Nico Schouten helped us to structure our idea and make it into a working concept to be presented to the Department of Public Health in Utrecht. After a lot of research about the matter at hand, we decided that scent would be a very valuable part of the intervention and we contacted Sanne Boesveldt at the University of Wageningen.
There have been companies using scent, to great effect to steer people towards their own products, like Starbucks and the Albert Heijn. There have also been a great number of academic studies to prove that scent can have beneficial effects on the choice for a certain food group, and that this also applies to healthier food, instead of more tasty food. The only thing missing is a long-term, practical research, that indicates how this type of intervention is going to work in reality.
And that’s what we are setting out to do. Over the next year or so, we will be developing an intervention that will focus on nudging people towards healthier eating behavior, looking at the matter from behavioral science and the olfactory world.
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