Study: Looking to Diet or Save Money? Leave the Cards at Home

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A cashier smiles at a customer getting set to check out at the supermarket.

Noel Hendrickson / Getty Images

While shopping at the grocery store, all it takes to make a bad choice is one swipe at the cash register.

There was a time when spending included more than a bank account and a receipt. Consumers carefully shelled out paper money from their wallets and purses, witnessing dollars and cents leave their possession for good, bad and ugly decisions. (See a special report on the science of appetite.)

In an increasingly debit- and/or credit-based economy, the Journal of Consumer Research has brought a new study to the kitchen table, linking bank-card usage with impulsive food choices. The experiment observed 1,000 people over a six-month period, with results suggesting that paying cash can cut “vice” foods out of your grocery bill. (See nine kid foods to avoid.)

Still not convinced to cut the dependency on your cards? Head over to Healthland for the full report. (See pictures of what makes you eat more food.)