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How health buzzwords trick consumers and create a 'health halo' effect

Health Buzzwords

... 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. 

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How health buzzwords trick consumers and create a 'health halo' effect

How health buzzwords trick consumers and create a 'health halo' effect

https://www.healthwriterhub.com/health-buzzwords/

healthwriterhub.com

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Key Ideas

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 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.

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.

Health Buzzwords

... 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. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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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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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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.

"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. 

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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Best foods don’t have labels
Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

The "Age" of vegetables
The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

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An old concept

Beauty supplements aren’t a new concept. We've been able to buy hair and nail formulas for decades at the drugstore.

The supplements, from vitamin ingredients like biotin, zinc, folic ac...

The beauty supplement market

Although beauty supplements were a small part of the beauty industry previously, they are now becoming increasingly popular. The global beauty supplement market is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $6.8 billion by the end of 2024.

A survey of buyers revealed that supplement brands, not skin care or makeup brands, are most likely to be picked up by retailers, as

beauty supplements have become hope in a bottle.

Marketing supplements

The concept may not be new, but the techniques used to market supplements are.

In 2013, companies realized they could make use of social media to promote their supplements as youthful and fun.

One of the attractive qualities for supplements is a strong engagement on social media, with packaging designed to be super-shareable.

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The Psychology Of Color: Research Findings
The Psychology Of Color: Research Findings
  • Up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
  • Colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question.
The Psychology Of Color - Misconceptions

Elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So assertions on the effect of colors are often not based on scientifically sound evidence.

The decoy effect
The decoy effect

It happens when consumers change their preference between two options when presented with a third option, or decoy.

The decoy is priced to make one of the other options much more attra...

How decoys work

When consumers are faced with many alternatives, they often experience choice overload that increases anxiety and hinders decision-making.

Consumers try to reduce this anxiety by selecting only a couple of criteria (say price and quantity) to determine the best value for money.

A decoy steers you in a particular direction while giving you the impression that you are making a rational, informed choice.

Decoy example in the market

Consider the price of drinks at a well-known juice bar: a small (350 ml) size costs $6.10; the medium (450 ml) $7.10; and the large (610 ml) $7.50. The medium is a slightly better value than the small, and the large better still. The medium is designed to be the decoy, steering you to see the biggest drink as the best value for money.

If you buy the biggest, was it because you made a sensible choice, or have you been manipulated to opt for bigger than intended?

Fresh food nutrients
Fresh food nutrients

Food is most nutritious at the point of harvest. After that, fresh produce starts degrading.

Once picked, that fruit or veg is using its own nutrients to keep its cells alive. Vitamin C fou...

Refrigerating produce

Refrigeration slows down the process of nutrition degradation. The nutritional loss varies from product to product.

Spinach loses 100% of its vitamin C content in seven days at room temperature and 75% if refrigerated. Carrots lose 27% of their vitamin C content when stored at room temperature for a week.

However, when vegetables are frozen, including spinach, they lose significantly less vitamin C, because freezing pauses the process of oxidization.

Frozen foods nutrients

As soon as produce is harvested, it's a nutritional race against time.

Frozen produce has one problem: before it's frozen, it's blanched - heating food up for a few minutes at high temperatures to inactivate enzymes that degrade texture and color. Blanching also reduces nutrient content.

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