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Skipping the supermarket could impact your impulsivity.

August 09, 2017

Looking to make healthier choices at the grocery store? You might want to skip the store entirely and shop online.

A new study suggests that when people shop online they tend to buy healthier food. Turns out that if you don’t see those Caramel M&M's, the spicy Sweet Heat Skittles, or the Jelly Doughnut-flavored Oreo cookies, the less likely you are to buy them (much to the chagrin of the candy industry).

The study was conducted by Professor Jaime Coffino from the University at Albany, State University of New York, who surveyed college students about their impulsivity and how they respond to the presence of food, according to Live Science. After rating their levels of impulsiveness, the students were then told to hit the online grocery store with a budget of $48.50 and a mission to buy "nutritious, affordable and tasty" foods.

Coffino then calculated the nutritional value of the food in each shopping cart and found that generally, people made healthy choices. "It didn't matter how impulsive a person was," Coffino told Live Science. "The nutritional outcomes didn't vary." In the test group, there was no evident link between impulsiveness and healthy food choices. Basically, even if students identified as very impulsive, they were still able to choose healthier food when shopping online, because they didn’t accidentally wander down the cookie aisle in the grocery store.

The study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, was small and hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. However the results are certainly intriguing enough to warrant further investigation and for those of us who, like Oscar Wilde, can resist everything but temptation, it might be a good idea to shop online, far from the Chile Limón Flavored Rolled Doritos and Pico de Gallo Lay’s potato chips.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time until the companies behind those junk food purchases start targeting ads at online shoppers, but until then, if you’re trying to make healthier choices consider skipping the supermarket.