Additional nutrition and behaviour studies

Product Cues


  • The colour of a product influences consumers’ perception about the attributes of that product. For example, how healthy that product may be, how tasty, energising and satiating that product may be.
  • Consumers’ perceptions of a product are greatly influenced by the cues contained on the packaging of that product.
  • The energising effects of caffeine and glucose containing products are largely determined by a placebo expectancy effect (e.g. Green, M. W., Taylor, M. A., Elliman, N. A. & Rhodes, O. (2001). Placebo expectancy effects In the relationship between glucose and cognition. British Journal of Nutrition, 86, 173-179).
  • Consumers can come to like novel food products as a result of the psychoactive properties of certain ingredients contained in that product e.g. caffeine and alcohol. (Rogers, P. J., Richardson, N. J. & Elliman, N. A. (1995).Overnight caffeine abstinence and negative reinforcement of preference for caffeine-containing drinks. Psychopharmacology, 120, 457-462)




Consumer behaviour can be predicted on the basis of range of psychometric evaluations. For example, differences in habitual eating style can predict the success or failure of attempted weight loss or, indeed, the tendency to be overweight. Further, factors such as anxiety and depression levels, stress etc have a direct impact of ingestive behaviour and food choice.


Lipids and performance


Actively attempting to lower cholesterol levels has been associated with increases in aggression, depression and impairments in cognitive function (e.g. Wardle, J., Rogers, P. J., Judd, P., Taylor, M. A., Rapoport, L., Green, M. & Nicholson-Perry, K. (2000). Randomised trial of the effects of cholesterol-lowering dietary treatment on psychological function. American Journal of Medicine, 108, 547-553.).


Caffeine and performance


It has been repeatedly found that habitual caffeine consumers experience deficits in cognitive performance and mood when deprived of caffeine. Interestingly, this effect is not found in non-caffeine consumers, suggesting that caffeine does not actually provide a net benefit to cognitive performance but that it restores baseline performance in caffeine withdrawn habitual users (e.g. Richardson, N. J., Rogers, P. J., Elliman, N. A. & O’Dell, R. J. (1995). Mood and performance effects of caffeine in relation to acute and chronic caffeine deprivation. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 52, 313-320)


Neurotransmitter function and cognitive performance


It has been found that, amongst dieters, 5-HT function is not responsible for the observed deficits in cognitive function but that it does affect self reported mood state (e,g, Green, M. W., Jones, A. D., Smith, I. D., Cobain, M. R., Williams, J. M. G., Healy, H., Cowen, P. J., Powell, J. & Durlach, P. J. (2003). Impairments in working memory associated with naturalistic dieting in women: No relationship with urinary 5-HIAA levels? Appetite, 40, 145-153).