Nudging or ‘choice architecture’ refers to strategic changes in the environment that are anticipated to alter people’s behaviour in a predictable way, without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. Nudging strategies may be used to promote healthy eating behaviour. However, to date, the scientific evidence has not been systematically reviewed to enable practitioners and policymakers to implement, or argue for the implementation of, specific measures to support nudging strategies. This systematic review investigated the effect of positional changes of food placement on food choice. In total, seven scientific databases were searched using relevant keywords to identify interventions that manipulated food position (proximity or order) to generate a change in food selection, sales or consumption, among normal-weight or overweight individuals across any age group. From 2576 identified articles, fifteen articles comprising eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria. This review has identified that manipulation of food product order or proximity can influence food choice. Such approaches offer promise in terms of impacting on consumer behaviour. However, there is a need for high-quality studies that quantify the magnitude of positional effects on food choice in conjunction with measuring the impact on food intake, particularly in the longer term. Future studies should use outcome measures such as change in grams of food consumed or energy intake to quantify the impact on dietary intake and potential impacts on nutrition-related health. Research is also needed to evaluate potential compensatory behaviours secondary to such interventions.
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