Less Sugar In Your Coffee By Default
This intervention was created and tested Massimo Cesareo, Mariateresa Volpe, Francesco Pozzi & Paolo Moderato
The intervention took place in Catania (Italy), and was put in place to nudge clients of a gym’s coffee shop to reduce their sugar intake while consuming hot beverages, by changing the default of units of sugar. We assumed that people frame their choice about the amount of sugar to pour in their drinks in units (packets) rather than considering the effective amount (in grammes) contained in the packets. This opens op for a change in behaviour by changing the effective amount of sugar in each packet while still letting people use as much sugar as they want.
Participants were the self-selected customers of the coffee shop. Data were collected for twelve days, between 3 pm and 4 pm, by observing the number of costumers who purchase hot beverages and noting on an observational grid the number of packets of sugar that they poured in their drinks.
Packets with 7,5g of sugar were used during the control phase, replaced with 4g packets during the experimental one.
A t-test was run to compare the two conditions. The difference between the average of sugar consumed during the first and the second period of observation was statistically significant. The average intake of sugar per person was 5,83g during the control observation, reducing to 3,05g during the experimental one.
If this is extrapolated to 2 cups of coffee every day, then the result is roughly a drop in intake of 8100 calories each year. That’s a bit more than the energy stored in 1 kg of body fat.
The experiment confirmed our hypothesis, showing a significant reduction in sugar intake during the intervention.