East Anglia, United Kingdom—Food producers can use textures to encourage healthy eating,according to new researchfrom Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Consumer Psychologist Dr. Catherine Jansson-Boyd of ARU and her team had 88 people rate six types of oat biscuits on healthiness, tastiness, crunchiness, chewiness, pleasantness, and likelihood of purchase based on visual appearance.

The results: Biscuits with a pronounced surface texture were seen as healthier and less tasty than biscuits with a smooth texture—and less likely to be purchased than biscuits with a smooth texture. Having a “healthy looking” texture decreases perceived tastiness and likelihood of purchase.
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Dr. Jansson-Boyd said in a press release: “The findings are really exciting as they give food manufacturers a means to design foods that can help consumers make healthier choices. A sweet item, such as a biscuit, benefits from having an appearance as being less healthy, as that increases the perception of tastiness and increases the likelihood of purchase. To guide healthier purchasing decisions, food producers can therefore look to use non-healthy looking, smoother textures to overcome this perception that healthy is not tasty.”