The proximity effect for decreasing the likelihood for snack consumption and exploring its risk for compensation behavior.
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Objective: The current study examined the proximity effect which holds that placing food further away from people consistently decreases the likelihood of consumption. The study aimed to replicate findings from previous studies with the hypotheses that placing snack food further away decreases the likelihood of consumption and is associated with more perceived effort to obtain it. As individuals may feel the tendency to compensate, the associations of compensation behavior between distance and consumption were explored. Methods: In the study (N=69), distance to a bowl of snack food was randomly varied at a distance of 20 or 70 cm. Outcome variables were the amount of participants that consumed the snack (likelihood of consumption), the consumed amount, perceived effort and compensation behavior as assessed by providing two choice options in a lottery, varying in healthiness. Results: The study showed that a distant snack indicates a lower likelihood- and amount of consumption. Participants perceived a distant snack more effortful to obtain compared to a closer snack. There was found no greater likelihood for compensation behavior with a distant snack or when refrained from snacking. Conclusions: Placing a snack food further away may serve as an effective strategy for changing the food environment to decrease snack consumption, indicating no associations with compensation behavior.