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The health halo: how good PR is misleading shoppers

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https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/11/know-what-you-eat-health-halo

theguardian.com

The health halo: how good PR is misleading shoppers
Humans show biases in many ways. We are what researchers call cognitive misers, we conceptualise our world using mental shortcuts in an effort to make quicker, more efficient decisions. One area in which we rely on mental shortcuts is food consumption.

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Don’t Believe Healthy Labels

Don’t let your guard down when you see items labeled with healthy-sounding terms and don’t assume there is a correlation between things without proof. Know what you are eating by paying c...

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Research On The Health Halo Effect

  • This effect often leads to consumers confusing “low fat” with “low calorie”, which results in the overconsumption of the former.
  • When choosing between similar products with different n...

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The Health Halo Effect

Happens when we overestimate the healthfulness of an item based on a single claim, such as being low in calories or low in fat.

This halo effect makes us more comfortable to eat more t...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Mental Shortcuts

We don’t have complete control of our decision-making because we take mental shortcuts, using inbuilt biases which are supposed to improve the efficiency of our choices and actions.

We...

What Is a Health-Halo

It’s when people overestimate the healthiness of a food item because of unwarranted correlations. Research indicates that this effect causes people to consume larger portions and may even be a cause of obesity. 

Subway Vs. Mcdonalds

A study comparing the two restaurants found that those who ate at Subway underestimated the calories in their meals more than those who ate at McDonald's.

Because Subway sandwiches are considered healthier, people are more likely to add a cookie and a soda. While people who eat at McDonald's are not under the health-halo so they’re less likely to order sides with a Big Mac.

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The origins of the breakfast myth

Much of the research suggesting that breakfast is essential for health is funded by cereal makers.

Companies like Kellogg, Quaker Oats and others whose businesses depend on p...

Breakfast and weight loss/gain

There’s no clear evidence that breakfast consumption promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain. 

It might actually be a bad strategy for weight loss because eating breakfasts means taking in a higher number of calories/day.

The health halo of breakfast

...is not backed up by research.

It is possible for breakfast to have health benefits, especially for some groups (growing children and athletes), but there’s not a lot of good evidence behind those benefits.

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Organic junk food is still junk food

Organic junk food is still junk food

From a macronutrient perspective, organic junk foods are often identical to their conventional counterparts. 

They tend to be equally high in sugar and low in pro...

Organic isn't always healthy

Many organic brands tend to cater to a health-conscious crowd, meaning they’ll often use less processing or healthier ingredients to appeal to their consumers. But the organic label alone does not guarantee this.

The “health halo” effect

It refers to a scientifically researched phenomenon in which certain claims, such as “low fat” or “made with organic ingredients” can lead us to assume a food is healthier or lower in calories. 

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