Does Eating 'Healthy' Make You Eat More?

While everyone can agree that eating too much leads to weight gain, many consumers may not be aware of their food biases when it comes to "healthy" snacks or meals.

A new study from Cornell Food & Brand Lab found that when people eat what they consider to be healthy foods, they are more likely to overeat - mainly because they associate "healthy" with less filling, the study found.

"Specifically, the researchers demonstrate that portraying a food as healthy as opposed to unhealthy using a front-of-package nutritional scale impacts consumer judgment and behavior," a news release on the study stated.

Psychological causes of weight gain

The study found that when food is portrayed as healthy, consumers are likely to order bigger portion sizes and consume more of the food - even if they claim they don't agree with the idea that healthy = less filling.

Researchers also found a potential way around the problem: When they highlighted the "nourishing aspects" of healthy foods, the consumers' belief that these foods are less filling was lessened.

"The findings suggest that the recent proliferation of healthy food labels may be ironically contributing to the obesity epidemic rather than reducing it," the study stated. "Consumers can use this knowledge to avoid overeating foods presented as healthy and to seek foods portrayed as nourishing when they want to feel full without overeating."

Source: Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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