MIAMI, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers buy healthier foods for themselves but choose foods that are less healthy when they are purchasing for others, researchers found.
Study leader Juliano Laran of the University of Miami discovered consumers exert more self-control when they make choices for themselves.
In one study, participants were asked to make a sequence of four choices from 16 items that were healthy -- items like raisins, celery sticks and cheerios -- or indulgent items like chocolate bars, cookies, Doritos, ice cream and doughnuts. Half of the participants were asked to choose four items for themselves, while the others were asked to choose four items for a friend.
"When making choices for themselves, participants chose a balance of healthy and indulgent food items," Laran says in a statement. "When making choices for others, however, participants chose mostly indulgent food items.
"One of the reasons the population gets more and more obese is that a lot of the food we consume is chosen by other people, like friends throwing a party or parents buying for their children."
The findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Research.