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Food insecurity moderates the acute effect of subjective socioeconomic status on food consumption

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Melissa BatesonORCiD, Professor Daniel Nettle



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 Godsell, Randle, Bateson and Nettle.Experimentally inducing low subjective socioeconomic status (SSES) increases food consumption in standardized eating opportunities. Separately, food insecurity (FI) has also been shown to be associated with increased food consumption when a free eating opportunity is provided. Here, we assigned 123 adult volunteers to a low-SSES manipulation or a control condition, followed by an opportunity to consume snack foods. We measured FI prior to the experiment. Thus, our experiment served to replicate the effects of SSES and of FI on consumption, and also to establish whether these effects combine additively or interactively. The low-SSES manipulation increased food consumption, but only among participants who were food secure at baseline. Among food-insecure participants, the effect was reversed. This interaction was not predicted a priori and is presented as an exploratory finding. We also found evidence that both SSES and FI affected the hedonic evaluation of the snack foods, though the changes in evaluation did not mediate the changes in consumption. Our findings suggest that both FI and low SSES affect the consumption and evaluation of food. Their combined effects on consumption may be complex.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Godsell S, Randle M, Bateson M, Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Psychology

Year: 2019

Volume: 10

Online publication date: 14/08/2019

Acceptance date: 31/07/2019

Date deposited: 02/10/2019

ISSN (electronic): 1664-1078

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01886


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Funder referenceFunder name
666669Commission of the European Communities