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Beware of the Health Halo | Berkeley Wellness

The “health halo” effect

The “health halo” effect

It occurs when food that has some healthy qualities is seen as being virtuous in all respects.

For example, many people think that organic foods are healthier because they're lower in calories and higher in fibre than their conventionally grown counterparts. But the term "organic" refers to agriculture practices and has nothing to do with health or nutrition.

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Beware of the Health Halo | Berkeley Wellness

Beware of the Health Halo | Berkeley Wellness

https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/health-food-beware-halo-effect

berkeleywellness.com

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Key Ideas

The “health halo” effect

It occurs when food that has some healthy qualities is seen as being virtuous in all respects.

For example, many people think that organic foods are healthier because they're lower in calories and higher in fibre than their conventionally grown counterparts. But the term "organic" refers to agriculture practices and has nothing to do with health or nutrition.

Food-related behaviors, influenced by the health halo effect

Many people fall victim to a health aura of some foods:

  • Fitness branding may make dieters eat more and exercise less. In one study, people trying to lose weight consumed more trail mix when the package labeled it as a "fitness" snack. The participants also exercised less when they were offered the "fitness" snack.
  • Another study found that people who brought reusable shopping bags bought more organic foods, but they also chose more "indulgent " foods, like candy and chips.

To avoid being influenced by the health halo effect, ignore buzzwords, slogans, and images that make foods appear more healthful than they are.

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