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Do plants stimulate a healthy food choice: A photo experiment on how exposure to indoor green plants stimulates food wanting, stress, and mood
Mattheeuws, L.; Debra, G. (2021). Do plants stimulate a healthy food choice: A photo experiment on how exposure to indoor green plants stimulates food wanting, stress, and mood. MSc Thesis. Ghent University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: Gent. 58 + Appendixes pp.

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Documenttype: Doctoraat/Thesis/Eindwerk

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Abstract
    Urbanized environments may influence unhealthy food choices and cause stress which contributes to the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Several theories explain that exposure to green nature can counter these effects Since we spent most of our time indoors, integrating nature in the interior design could be a promising tool in health promotion, however evidence is lacking. The current study investigated in 94 adults (aged 18-30 years, 15% men) the effects of green indoor plant pictures on food choice and stress restoration. Three control groups were exposed to a similar six-minute slideshow containing green objects, greyscale plants or greyscale objects. As such, plant-effects could be distinguished from color-effects. Food choice (fruits, vegetables, and snacks), psychological measures (reported stress, mood, and mental restoration), and heart rate variability (HRV), were compared pre- and post-stress induction (Trier Social Stress Test). Green plants exposure resulted in higher preference for vegetables and lower preference for unhealthy snacks. This effect was only observed in the groups exposed to plants. Additionally, indoor green plants were perceived as most mentally restorative. Moreover, both plants and green were perceived as more mentally restorative. No effects were found in affect or HRV (physiological stress), however, stress-induction was not successful. In summary, indoor green plant images were associated with higher mental restorativeness and a healthier food choice. Integrating plants in the interior rather than green seem to be associated with healthy food choices, implying a possible relevant role in health promotion.

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