Health motivators


Background (completed research project)​

Muesli is better for you than a croissant. Most people are aware of this, as knowledge about healthy eating is widespread. Nevertheless, each day many people choose to eat less healthy alternatives, as knowledge has only a small influence on eating patterns compared with the larger effect of environmental motivators. The project seeks both to identify these motivating factors, and to show how health motivators can be used to increase selection of healthy food options.


The research project studies how different health considerations can be stimulated by factors in the environment. Even the smallest of environmental stimuli can influence a health consideration. For example, the quantity of food consumed by the person sitting opposite influences the quantity that we eat ourselves. However, if there are weighing scales in the room, or a picture of one of Giacometti’s slimline sculptures, the healthy choice is activated and the quantity of food devoured is no longer dependent on one’s dinner partner. In this project, experiments will be carried out in canteens and in the laboratory. By making systematic changes in each location, it will become evident which different factors affect the test subjects’ eating habits. Of particular interest are the factors that stimulate the test subject to choose healthier food alternatives. The study will thus provide new insights into how decisions are made and may therefore help to identify effective measures for a healthier diet.


The research project will produce fundamental data from which effective measures for healthier diets can be identified. It will improve understanding of the motivations and stimuli that affect eating patterns, promote food-related aspects of health and therefore contribute to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Original title

Environmental cues and their effect on sustainable food intake

Project leaders

  • Prof. Dr. Claude Messner, Universität Bern
  • Dr. Thomas Brunner, Berner Fachhochschule



Further information on this content


Prof. Claude Messner Institut für Marketing und Unternehmensführung (IMU) Universität Bern Engehaldenstrasse 4 3012 Bern +41 31 631 80 40


Project Health motivators

An (un)healthy poster: When environmental cues affect consumers’ food choices at vending machines. Sabrina Stöckli, Aline E. Stämpfli, Claude Messner, Thomas A. Brunner