People eat more of foods labelled “healthy” as they consider them less filling, a new study finds.
The research suggests that those aiming for weight loss should be wary of inbuilt beliefs about healthy foods.
Over a series of studies, scientists found that people automatically see more healthy foods as less filling than they actually are.
When the same food is portrayed as healthy (as opposed to unhealthy), people:
- order larger portions of the ‘healthy’ food.
- eat more of the food labelled as ‘healthy’.
- report more hunger after eating ‘healthy’ foods.
This was even true of people who said they did not believe that healthy foods were less filling.
Ironically, the labelling of food as healthy could actually be contributing to the obesity crisis.
However, the scientists found a way to reverse this.
By highlighting how nourishing healthy foods are, people’s bias was lessened.
Hopefully this article is doing the same thing — whether or not it will lead to weight loss, you will have to find out!
The study was published in The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, (Suher et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Fork measuring tape image from Shutterstock
→ This post is part of a series on weight loss:
- How Healthy Foods Can Hurt Your Weight Loss Goal
- Dieting Advice: Only Eat When Hungry — Sounds Obvious But It’s Hard
- Why Eating With a Fork Versus A Spoon Can Aid Weight Loss
- This Very Easy Change To Tableware Can Help You Eat 30% Less
- People Eat Fewer Calories After A Straightforward Change To Home Environment
- How The Sounds You Make While Eating Could Help You Lose Weight
- Weight Loss: Why You Should Put A Mirror Up In The Kitchen