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Photos of healthy menu options

A project in Baltimore redesigned menus at carryout restaurants by adding appealing photos of the healthy options while leaving the unhealthy options as text only.

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Baltimore Healthy Carryouts (BHC) is a project to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to encourage healthy eating at carryout restaurants. The research team conducted participant observation, user interviews, and focus group discussions to gather insights about the experience of ordering food at carryouts. They learned that when menus included photos of meal options, photos drew attention and influenced customers' choices. Some customers said that seeing their favorite foods can be so tantalizing that they can't think about ordering anything else. This insight fit with scientific research showing that seeing photos of food can stimulate the same reward centers in the brain that are stimulated when eating. 

The BHC team mocked up menus that showed mouth-watering photos of healthy options while relegating unhealthy options to text. They refined the prototypes with user feedback. Currently, BHC is field-testing the redesigned menus as well as other approaches to nudge people toward healthier eating in 13 Baltimore carryout restaurants. 

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What a great nudge! Fascinating to think how a simple innovation like this could change behaviours and enhance wellness.