'Health foods' contributing to obesity crisis because we eat more, study finds

Researchers said that foods marketed as healthy are "ironically contributing to the obesity epidemic"

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Foods marketed as "healthy" can lead to weight gain, a study has found.

Researchers suggested that "healthy food" labels may be “ironically contributing” to the obesity epidemic rather than reducing it, as people perceive healthy food as less filling, and therefore eat more of it.

To make their findings, the team measured how three groups of students responded to eating food that was portrayed as either healthy or unhealthy, The Mirror reported.

The study published in the 'Journal of the Association for Consumer Research' found that participants subconsciously believed that food marketed as healthy, rather than unhealthy, was less filling.

When the students were presented with “healthy” food, they ordered and ate more. 

The notion was so engrained among participants that those who disagreed that healthy foods are less filling than unhealthy foods also held the same biases, according to researchers at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. 

The study also found that highlighting the fact that healthy food is nourishing reverses the idea that it is less filling. 

Researchers hope their work will help consumers avoid overeating foods presented to them as healthy, and to instead seek foods which are nourishing.