By Stephen Matthews

Ordering your weekly food shop online could help you lose weight, if new research is to be believed.

By doing so, adults can skip the chocolate, crisps and biscuit aisles that are so often responsible for bulging waistlines.

Instead, they avoid the impulse purchases of junk-food and stick solely to the goals of maintaining a healthy diet, scientists claim.


The study suggested home delivery services, which are booming in popularity, could one day be used as a dietary intervention.

It offers particular hope for young people who turn their back on the idea of trudging the supermarket aisles in favour of using their smartphones.

A host of research has showed overweight people to have greater impulsiveness than their skinny counterparts - which can lead to random purchases.

By working solely on search terms and not deals crammed on the end of aisles, online shopping may help combat to rising obesity rates.

Dismissive of previous concerns

The new University at Albany study dismisses previous suggestions by Britain's top doctor that buying groceries online is bad for our health.

Last June Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, urged people to keep making trips to the supermarket to boost health.

She cited a lack of exercise as a pressing health problem, with many adults failing to meet recommended daily guidelines for staying active.

How was the study carried out?

For the study, presented at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Washington DC, 60 college students were assessed.

They were quizzed on how impulsive they were, suggesting how easily influenced they may be by the presence of appealing, but unhealthy, foods.

Each was given £37.28 (NZD $66.09) to fill their online shopping trolley with 'nutritious, affordable and tasty' products, Live Science reports.

Upon analysis of each basket, researchers found no difference in nutritional value between any participants - regardless of how impulsive they were.

Lead researcher Jaime Coffino, a PhD student, said: "It didn't matter how impulsive a person was, the nutritional outcomes didn't vary."

The preliminary findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the scientists were keen to point out.

Sales are booming

It comes as Britain's online food market is expected to nearly double to £17.2 billion by 2020, according to analysts.

A similar surge has been seen in the US, with online grocery shopping amounting to $7 billion in 2015, and expected to rise to $18 billion by 2020.

In Britain, the proportion of people who do all their grocery shopping online has doubled in two years with the rise of same day delivery.

The figure rose from 7 per cent in 2014 to 14 per cent - one in seven - last year, the Mail reported in June.

The increase comes as some online stores, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, are offering same day delivery trials.

But some say the opposite...

In March, an Australian dietitian said online grocery shopping could be bad news for your waistline and your wallet.

Despite being convenient, it could be leaving you with less money in the bank, it's also probably making you fat.

That's according to Australian dietitian Allan Borushek, who told NineCoach that people can make poorer decisions when shopping online.

The main reason for this, he said, is because some retailers don't show the nutritional information for many products on their online stores.

"While in-store shoppers can readily check the nutrition info panels, online shoppers are not given this option for many of the in-house brands," Mr Borushek explained.

"The non-availability of nutritional data online disadvantages online shoppers - particularly those who are unable to physically shop in-store."