“Food as Fuel: Performance goals increase preferences for high-calorie foods and caloric intake” by Dr. Yann Cornil
Dr. Yann Cornil
Assistant Professor of Marketing
University of British Columbia
This research investigates the impact of performance goals on food preferences and consumption. We demonstrate that activating performance goals, whether with implicit priming methods or explicit instructions, increases consumers’ preferences for and consumption of high-calorie foods. This effect relies on lay beliefs that calories provide fuel for achieving higher levels of performance. Importantly, these beliefs are potentially misleading: in contradiction with nutrition research recommendations, performance goals increase calorie intake, whether calories stem from sugar or from fat, and whether calories are consumed in preparation for physical or for cognitive activities. These findings have important implications for nutrition, marketing, and public policy. While consumer research often interprets the overconsumption of palatable, high-calorie foods in terms of self-regulation failures, our research suggests that this overconsumption may also be explained by a misinformed motivation (rather than a failure) to manage energy intake in response to performance goals.