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Moving towards healthy: cuing food healthiness and appeal

Moty Amar (Department of Business, Ono Academic College, Kiryat Ono, Israel)
Yaniv Gvili (Department of Business, Ono Academic College, Kiryat Ono, Israel)
Aner Tal (Department of Business, Ono Academic College, Kiryat Ono, Israel)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 30 November 2020

Issue publication date: 12 February 2021




This paper aims to offer social marketers an innovative method to promote healthy foods. This method demonstrates the effectiveness of indirect communication in attracting consumers to healthy foods. Further, it aims to offer a way to promote food as healthier with no detrimental effects on its perceived appeal, which are a likely side effect of advertising food as healthy.


Four between-participant lab studies (N = 50, 80, 80, 102) included manipulations of food motion vs stillness and then compared ratings of food freshness, healthiness and appeal using self-report measures.


Motion increases healthiness evaluation. This increase in healthiness evaluation occurs without reductions in food appeal. These effects are mediated by evaluations of freshness. This occurred across three different food types and two mediums (still images and digital videos).

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides an effective tool for social marketers wishing to encourage healthier eating. Specifically, it helps address two problems: low effectiveness of prevalent, information-based appeals to encourage healthy eating; and reduced evaluations of tastiness that normally occur when consumers are convinced food is healthy.

Social implications

Social marketers can use motion as an effective tool to promote food as healthy. Importantly, this indirect communication avoids the potential pitfall of reduced food appeal. This should help encourage healthier eating. The findings also supports the use of indirect cues as an effective approach to promoting social ends.


Offering a novel, indirect method of enhancing judgments of food healthiness via a simple visual cue. Demonstrating the effect and its underlying mechanism. Providing a way to counter the prevalent “unhealthy = tasty” intuition, a major obstacle to promoting healthy eating. Supporting social marketers’ use of indirect communication to increase the appeal of desirable societal goals. Finally, showing that sensory visual cues can serve as a source of heuristic thinking.



This study was supported by the Research Center of The Faculty of Business Administration at the Ono Academic College.


Amar, M., Gvili, Y. and Tal, A. (2021), "Moving towards healthy: cuing food healthiness and appeal", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 44-63.



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