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Are "Healthier" Foods to Blame for Obesity?

July 6, 2013, 2:30 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Researchers have found that most people confuse foods which manufacturers label as "healthy" with low-calorie meal options. As a result, it is easier for people to overeat without knowing it. In an experiment in which 186 adults were asked to assess the appropriate portion size of foods, the participants served themselves more of the coleslaw labeled 'healthier' than the coleslaw labeled 'standard.' For instance, obese men served themselves 103 grams of healthy coleslaw and 86 grams of standard coleslaw. In reality, the healthy-labeled coleslaw had just as many calories as the 'standard' coleslaw.

What's the Big Idea?

It is easy to mistake foods that have one encouraging health quality, such as being low in fat, with being healthy in every dimension. But food that is labelled as "healthy" does not necessarily mean it is lower in calories. One reason why people might overeat healthier foods is because they feel less guilt when they choose a healthier option, according to Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan the director of Ireland's food safety department: "We think that these kinds of marketing means...of labeling things as being healthier, that it gives us a certain license to overeat and it can be dangerous" with regard to weight gain.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Pacific Standard


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