Foods Labeled ‘Healthy’ Can Cause People to Eat More, Study Finds

Staff Writer
Too much ‘healthy’ food is still not healthy

"Healthy" labels can mislead people to eat more than recommended.

When eating foods that are labeled “healthy,” people are in danger of eating more than they should. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity shows that when presented with foods labeled “healthy” as well as unlabeled foods, consumers ate a larger portion of the “healthier” foods compared to the “standard” foods.

The subjects thought that all “healthier” foods were lower in calories than the “standard” foods, and failed to realize that “healthier” foods may have as much as or more calories than the “standard” version of the same foods. Because of this, subjects ate more than the recommended portion size of the “healthier” foods.

A related study published in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2006 showed that “low-fat” nutrition labels led people to overestimate the recommended serving size and led them to feel less guilty about consuming the food.

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Clearly, more efforts are needed to inform consumers about food misconceptions, in order to combat obesity and its associated health problems.