Asso. Prof. Dr. Federico J.A. Perez-Cueto

Associate Professor, Department of Food Science
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Federico J.A. Perez-Cueto (Armando), born in La Paz, Bolivia, is Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Food Science, Design and Consumer Behaviour Section.
 
At the time, he leads work packages within the FoodSMART Project EU grant agreement. Previous EU funded projects where he participated include VeggiEAT (2013-2018), Data Food Networking (DAFNE) and EATWELL, all dealing with the issues of healthy eating Europe. He has been PI of two binational networks (Brazil and USA) on choice architecture for public health purposes, both financed by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. 
 
He holds a MSc in Rural Development Economics, a diploma in Food Science and Nutrition, and a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences, all from the Ghent University in Belgium. He is visiting lecturer through Erasmus+ Programme at Porto University (Portugal) and also lectures yearly as guest at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland).
 
Armando has consolidated a multi-disciplinary research approach around different aspects of food and health, including postdoctoral work combining nutrition and consumer research.  His research interests are focused in the promotion at consumer level of plant-based diets using behavioural interventions and highlighting  their healthier and more sustainable qualities.”


Nudging healthier food choices

Background: A plant-based diet is both healthy and sustainable. After large information campaigns, most EU citizens know about eating more fruits and vegetables. However, actual consumption remains below recommendations. Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient to generate behavioural change. Epidemiologic data showed that small changes towards a better dietary quality (measured as the Mediterranean Diet Score) are feasible, long lasting and health promoting. Therefore, support for facilitating plant-based choices through small and repetitive changes could contribute to achieving dietary goals.
Objective: To summarise lessons from systematic reviews and empirical intervention studies on the effect of nudging towards plant-based choices, and to highlight practical issues for implementation at larger scale.
Results: Few studies exist on the effect of nudges on plant-based consumption, and even less have explored consumer attitudes towards such interventions. Manipulation of food product order or proximity influences food choices. Placing vegetables first combined with allowing self-composition of salad, or providing status-quo (default) servings increase actual vegetable intake without affecting total quantity. In foodservice operations, the introduction of plant-based foods should be done with attention to the context and the adjacent choices. For consumers cooking at home an effective strategy is setting of reasonable goals towards a number of plant-based meals per week together with a reminder using IT.
Conclusion: Nudging could be a strategy to make plant-based choices easier for the consumer both through foodservice and at home. In foodservice, placing of vegetables first and provision of default choices could be a first step. For cooking at home, nudge through self-monitoring strategies and setting achievable goals.

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