Cafeteria Online: Nudges for Healthier Food Choices in a University Cafeteria—A Randomized Online Experiment

Christine Kawa*, Patrizia M. Ianiro-Dahm, Jan Nijhuis, Wim Gijselaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Many people do not consume as much healthy food as recommended. Nudging has been identified as a promising intervention strategy to increase the consumption of healthy food. The present study analyzed the effects of three body shape nudges (thin, thick, or Giacometti artwork) on food ordering and assessed the mediating role of being aware of the nudge. Students (686) and employees (218) of a German university participated in an online experimental study. After randomization, participants visited a realistic online cafeteria and composed a meal for themselves. Under experimental conditions, participants were exposed to one out of three nudges while choosing dishes: (1) thin body shape, (2) thick body shape, and (3) the Giacometti artwork nudge. The Giacometti nudge resulted in more orders for salad among employees. The thin and thick body shape nudges did not change dish orders. Awareness of the nudge mediated the numbers of calories ordered when using the Giacometti or thin body shape nudges. These findings provide useful insights for health interventions in occupational and public health sectors using nudges. Our study contributes to the research on the Giacometti nudge by showing its effectiveness when participants are aware (it is effective under conditions where it is consciously perceived).
Original languageEnglish
Article number12924
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2021


  • body shape nudge
  • cafetaria
  • cafeteria
  • food choice
  • health intervention
  • nudge awareness

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