Proximity of snacks to beverages increases food consumption in the workplace: A field study

Appetite. 2016 Aug 1;103:244-248. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.025. Epub 2016 Apr 23.


In an effort to bolster employee satisfaction, many employers provide free snacks at the office. Unfortunately, keeping employees happy can conflict with the goal of keeping them healthy, since increased snacking at work can contribute to overeating and obesity. Building on the growing body of research in choice architecture, we tested one factor that might influence snack consumption without impacting satisfaction: the relative distance between snacks and beverages. In a large field study at Google, we measured snack consumption when snacks were closer to or farther from beverages. We found that employees who used the beverage station closer to the snack station were more likely to take a snack- the likelihood of snacking increased from 12% to 23% for men and from 13% to 17% for women when the beverage station closest to the snack station was used. These results imply that employers and even families could reduce snack consumption easily, cheaply, and without backlash, by increasing the relative distance between beverages and snacks.

Keywords: Choice architecture; Consumption; Field experiment; Nutrition; Obesity; Proximity; Snacking.

MeSH terms

  • Beverages*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Public Health
  • Self-Control
  • Sex Factors
  • Snacks / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain / physiology
  • Workplace / psychology*