The classic advice for those looking to lose weight is to exercise and eat right. But simply choosing fitness-branded foods probably won’t help dieters meet their health goals — and may even result in unhealthy eating habits.
In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, results showed that consumers were more likely to overeat snacks that were fitness-related, even if they weren’t doing a physical activity.
Participants in this study were given two trail-mix snacks to take home, marked “Fitness” and “Trail Mix.” The fitness-branded snacks had running shoes on the label to make them appear healthier. Participants also had the option to exercise after eating the snack. Results showed that people who had initially noted that they wanted to lose weight ate more of the snack labeled “Fitness” and did not exercise as much. This suggests that these participants swapped out physical activity with a snack just because it was marketed as a “fitness food.”
Authors of the study noted that “It is important that more emphasis be placed on monitoring fitness cues in marketing… Reminding the consumer that exercise is still necessary may help counteract the negative effect of these fitness-branded foods.”
Fitness-branded snacks are not inherently bad. But if you are trying to lose weight, just don’t forget to include the exercise component.