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Hudson Institute’s Food Policy Center Releases New Study on Links between Body Mass Index and Consumer Behavior and Attitudes

Hudson Institute

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2018 – Today Hudson Institute released a new study, “Why They Buy: Fighting Obesity Through Consumer Marketing Research,” authored by Hank Cardello of the Food Policy Center. This study represents the first time consumer segmentation analysis was applied to understand the differences in attitudes towards eating, healthy living habits, mindsets, and food buying behavior, across four Body Mass Index (BMI) cohorts.

“Our findings challenge the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that has long been used to fight obesity in America,” said Hank Cardello, Director of the Food Policy Center at Hudson Institute. “By applying consumer segmentation techniques, we can develop the key messages and strategies to motivate action within communities that need it. Snacks, sweet baked goods and restaurants contribute to overconsumption by the obesity segment and these sectors need to join their peer industries in committing to slash calories.”

Major findings include:

  • Attitudes among those who have obesity are not aligned with healthier eating. Sixty-two percent (62%) state they “know they should eat healthier, but don’t.”

  • Taste is king for the obesity segment. Only a third of the cohort with obesity rated “heath & nutrition” as a top-three attribute when making food purchasing decisions.

  • Those with obesity are interested in smaller portions. Sixty percent (60%) of the obesity segment indicated that they would continue to consume soda and snacks, but they want smaller portions.

  • Package nutrition labels are not as effective with those who have obesity.

  • “Stealth” changes to food products and packaging will be more effective in changing eating habits of the obesity cohort.

Hank Cardello leads the Food Policy Center at Hudson Institute, which develops practical, market-oriented solutions to food industry issues and the obesity epidemic. Cardello has published numerous reports examining trends in the adoption of healthier consumer goods, has advised major food companies and the federal government, and is the author of “Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat.”

Members of the press interested in interviewing Hank Cardello may contact Hudson Institute Press Secretary Carolyn Stewart, [email protected] and (202) 974-6456.


Hudson Institute is an independent research organization promoting new ideas for the advancement of global security, prosperity and freedom. For more information, please visit 

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