Could a Time Tax Help You Eat Better?

Exploring Intensity

Could a Time Tax Help You Eat Better?

Not all of us have vending machines at our work. But a new kind of vending machine shows an interesting trick that can maybe help some people make healthier decisions.

The official name is DISC, or Delays to Influence Healthy Snack Choice, and what it does is impose a time tax on certain unhealthy options in a vending machine.

Without getting into it too much, the basic idea is that if you go to get a snack from the machine, you will be warned that the treats which are packed with sugar and other problematic ingredients will take an extra 25 seconds before you can actually pull them out. But the healthy snacks will get to you right away.

And, at least according to one study, it actually leads to people picking the healthier options.

People head to the snack machine out of boredom or the feeling that they just need something to keep them going. And waiting around for 25 seconds is just too long to wait around when we can get a snack, even a healthy one, faster.

So if you aren’t near a machine that imposes a time tax on your unhealthy treats, try and figure out how to make getting to them more difficult. We suggest placing the evil snacks on a high shelf that requires a stool to obtain them. Or at work – try placing your unhealthy snacks far away from your desk – but keep the healthier ones within arm’s reach. Might be worth a simple experiment.

-Shane M.