Today’s food environments exploit people’s psychological vulnerabilities, making it easier for them to eat large quantities of unhealthy foods. This reinforces preferences and demands for poor nutritional quality foods, exacerbating unhealthy food environments. This symposium will focus on the relevance of the psychology of food choice to population health and health policy. The first talk will explore how food environment factors may interact with our psychological predispositions to lead potentially addictive foods to have widespread clinical and public health consequences. The second talk will examine how insights from behavioral economics can inform the design of food policies to address obesity and nudge people towards healthier food choices. The third talk will examine the contribution of targeted marketing of high-calorie foods and beverages to ethnic minority populations to ethnic disparities in obesity.

3:30pm Hard-wired: Why People Can’t Ignore the Food Environment
Ashley N Gearhardt, PhD
4:00pm Targeted Marketing: The Willpower Battle Field
Alison Earl, B COM
4:30pm Designing Food Policies to Address Obesity: Using Behavioral Economics
Margo G. Wootan, DSc