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Health halo effect: Why you should never order the salad at a fast food outlet | Brain Fodder

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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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Health halo effect: Why you should never order the salad at a fast food outlet | Brain Fodder

Health halo effect: Why you should never order the salad at a fast food outlet | Brain Fodder

https://brainfodder.org/health-halo-effect/

brainfodder.org

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Key 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 often use these shortcuts when deciding what to eat. For instance, we might decide that a food is healthy because it’s labeled as natural, organic, ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-calorie, when in fact these terms can be deliberately misleading.

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.

When Healthy Leads To More Calories

Research indicates that people don’t check the labels and assume that products marketed as healthy contain fewer calories than standard items. They see the “healthy” items as representing the less guilty option and so eat more of them.

Get a Real Healthy Halo

  • Avoid fast food.
  • Stay away from high-fat preparation methods (fried, deep-fried, batter-dipped, breaded, crispy, etc. )
  • Stick to your calorie consumption goal.
  • Cut condiments like mayo, sauces and dressings
  • Watch what you put on the side – avoid high-fat sides like fries and choose undressed salad instead.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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...

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 names, consumers prefer products with healthier-sounding names.
  • If you are eating at a restaurant you believe is healthy, you assume that the food choices you are making are healthy as well.
  • People who think their meal is healthy are more likely to add side dishes, drinks and desserts, resulting in over twice as many additional calories.
  • Items marketed by firms known as socially responsible stewards are assumed to be better and healthier products.
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 than we otherwise would if a product is promoted as low in fat or calories.

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is an effort to go back to eating how we’re biologically designed to eat, allowing us to tap into our genetic potential and start living healthier immediately.

Lose weight on the Paleo Diet
  1. Eat fewer calories than you burn every day.
  2. Eat mostly real food if you want to be healthy.
  3. Do those two things consistently for a decade to KEEP the weight off.

When you only eat real food and avoid all unhealthy food, you’re more likely than not going to run a caloric deficit – and thus lose weight.

Eat the following:
  • Meat – GRASS-FED, not grain-fed. 
  • Fowl – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey.
  • Fish – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
  • Eggs – Omega-3 enriched cage free eggs.
  • Vegetables – As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.
  • Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.
  • Fruits – Fruits have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Nuts – High in calories, so they’re good for a snack only.
  • Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams. Higher in calories and carbs.

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"Healthy: Dark Chocolate

Mars Inc. - the company that has brought us M&M's or Snickers - sponsored 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers starting from the 80s. Mars controlled the research agenda and only funded the posi...

Not really good for your health

The biggest health claim is that cocoa lowers blood pressure, but no study has proven that it reduces the risk of heart disease or attacks. And considering the added sugars it probably does more harm than good. 

Decreasing The Health Halo Effect

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 info...

Research On ‘Health Halos’

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. ”

The ‘Health Halo’ Effect

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.

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100 Calorie Packs

These pre-portioned packages usually contain little to no nutritional value, and people often eat more than one.

Instead, prepare your own 150 calorie snack by combining almonds and yo...

100% Wheat Bread Or Brown Bread

That doesn’t mean they are made of 100% whole grains. All 3 components (endosperm, germ, and bran) of a grain must be present for it to be classified as a whole grain.

Yogurt

It’s made by adding bacteria to milk, which can soothe several gastrointestinal ailments. But highly sweetened yogurts are like candy in a container instead of a valuable dose of dairy.

Opt for Greek yogurt, which is thicker in texture, and also contains double the amount of protein and less sugar than most yogurts.  

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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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Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods like white bread, cereal, chips, and wafers are remarkably common, convenient, affordable, extremely profitable for the makers, come in strong flavors and are aggressively ma...

Our Everyday Foods

We consume ultra-processed foods every day without even realizing it.

  • The morning cereal and flavored yogurt.
  • The savory snacks and sweet baked goods.
  • The vegan hotdog and the chicken nuggets available on the street.
  • The doughnut or the premium protein bar we buy as a snack.
  • The carton-packed almond milk put in our coffee or the diet coke we have.
Apart from obesity, ultra-processed foods are responsible for depression, asthma, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer.
More Light On Ultra-Processed Foods

Most cooked foods can be termed as 'processed foods', but ultra-processed foods are in a different domain, with few people having the clarity to differentiate.

A cooked carrot is processed food, but a bag of industrially-produced, carrot-flavored veggie puffs are ultra-processed and are still aimed at toddlers as a portion of natural food. Other examples include frozen peas or pasteurized milk.

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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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Metabolism

It refers to the thousands of chemical reactions that turn what we eat and drink into fuel in every cell of the body. These reactions change in response to our environments and behaviors, an...

How The Body Uses Calories
  • Basal metabolism is the energy our body needs to keep our cells working and accounts for 65-80% of most adults' caloric consumption.
  • The thermic effect of food is the energy our body uses to process food and accounts for 10% of most adults' caloric consumption.
  • Physical activity accounts for 10 - 30 % of most people’s caloric consumption .
Controlling Your Own Weight

Not everyone overeats and becomes overweight, and not everyone who becomes overweight or obese develops illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. 

There was never a special diet, exercise regimen, or supplement that worked universally to control weight. Through trial and error, we have to discover habits and routines we can stick with that help us eat less and move more. 

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Vegan fast food

Vegan fast food alternatives may often be worse for your health than the meat equivalent. It is good that people start to think about plant-based foods, but the danger lies in thinking t...

Plant-based protein menus

Plant-based protein sources are not the same as animal protein sources. Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of every cell and hormone in our body. Meat protein contains all nine essential amino acids, whereas plant-based protein usually lacks at least one of the nine essential amino acids our body needs.

Unripe jackfruit makes a convincing choice for pulled pork alternatives, curries and burgers. But it is almost valueless if you needed protein since jackfruit consists of carbohydrates. Vegan burgers are made up of beans, but this is not a complete protein source.

Iron content

One study found that 25% of vegans (mainly women) had very low blood iron levels, compared to 0% of omnivores.

Plants like whole grains, legumes and spinach are high in iron but is not always the best type. Animal sources contain haem iron. Non-haem iron, found in plants, is not as well absorbed by the body.

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