| October 29, 2010

Credit cards linked to obesity

Nearly 34 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according to recent reports from the Center for Disease Control, and a new report finds this may be linked to credit card use.

Consumers are more likely to buy unhealthy foods when they pay with their credit cards, the Journal of Consumer Research reports.

The study, conducted by professors at New York State Universities in Binghamton and Buffalo, as well as Cornell University, studied the shopping habits of 1,000 households over a period of six months.

One factors that contributed to the conclusion included a correlation between unhealthiness and impulsiveness involving food items. Researchers say they found consumers tend to purchase unhealthy foods impulsively, preferring to use credit because it speeds up the payment process.

The report also found that consumers experienced greater psychological damage when making purchases with cash rather than credit.

“The notion that mode of payment can curb impulsive purchase of unhealthy food products is substantially important,” the authors write. “The epidemic increase in obesity suggests that regulating impulsive purchases and consumption of unhealthy food products is a steep challenge for many consumers.”

As of 2006, 40 percent of all purchases made in the U.S. were made with credit cards.

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