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A ‘health halo’ occurs when a single health buzzword or claim causes a consumer to have other unsubstantiated positive impressions of the product.
Health halos in food advertising take the form of short messages on food packaging about the health benefits of an item. Product labels containing the words ‘low fat’, ‘organic’ and ‘gluten-free’ are perceived as healthy choices and influence consumer purchasing behaviors.
Protein bars are perceived as having an increased protein content and as healthier overall when the label reads “protein bar“ and “good source of protein. ”
... like ‘protein’, ‘paleo’ and ‘organic’ are used in marketing as key selling points for many of today’s health products. Yet these words can also trick consumers into believing a product is healthier than it really is.
Inaccurate health messages can be dangerous as they don’t help to educate consumers to make informed choices and are often in conflict with credible, accurate health information.
It is difficult for consumers to differentiate and make healthy choices between products when there is a wide variation in serving sizes and nutritional values. So, increasing the amount of information will not help.
The best way to tackle it is for writers, companies and consumers to ensure that people can understand the context and the information already existing on their labels.
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