Healthy food can be just as or more filling than unhealthy food
Healthy food can be just as or more filling than unhealthy food

Health labels could make you eat more, not less, says study

People think they are making a better choice and therefore eating more, according to the study at the Schools of Business in Texas

Rachael Revesz
Tuesday 29 December 2015 12:28

After the festive period millions of Britons will be battling the bulge, swapping Christmas cake for healthier-looking items – yet may still struggle to lose weight.

According to a new US study, picking items with healthy food labels are fuelling the obesity crisis as people think they are making a better choice and are eating more, not less, as a result. This is because people assume “healthy” foods are less filling than fatty ones, say the experts, and end up consuming more calories per day.

In the study by Austin McCombs School of Business in Texas, there were three experiments.

The first tested 50 people to see how they viewed the relationship between the concepts of healthy and filling food.

The second test measured how hungry people felt after eating a cookie, depending on whether the cookie was labelled healthy or unhealthy.

The third test asked 72 people to order food before watching a short film, as reported by the Daily Mail, and compare that to the amount of food they actually ate during the screening.

All results showed the irony that the participants felt hungrier or ate more if the food was perceived as healthy.

In the UK, the familiar traffic light labels on food – green, orange and red – were introduced in 2013 and show how much salt, fat and sugar an item contains; however, questions have been raised as to how helpful these labels are.

The European Commission plans to review front of pack nutrition schemes in 2017.

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