Is Health Food Making You Fat?
Is Health Food Making You Fat?
Foods marketed as healthy are actually making America fat. If you don’t want to know more, I suggest you run away now, for about 30 minutes a day with an elevated heart rate.
Actually, you should just do that anyway. Hey gang, Matt Lieberman here for DNews. Obesity is, dare I say, a huge issue in the United States. Nearly two thirds of US women and three quarters of US men are overweight or obese, and a new report published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that Obese Americans actually outnumber overweight Americans. It’s big news, but a new study published in the Journal of Marketing Research is weighing even more heavily on my mind.
The study, authored by the American Marketing Association, shows that foods marketed as fitness, diet, or healthy options can lead to overconsumption and actually reduce consumers’ motivation to exercise. The study examined the eating and exercise patterns of so-called “restrained” eaters, who are chronically concerned about their body weight and image. Participants were allowed to choose between two bags of trail mix, one labelled simply Trail Mix, while the other was labelled Fitness Trail Mix, with an image of running shoes visible on the package. They were given eight minutes to eat and give their opinions on the trail mix of their choice, and then encouraged to exercise as much as they wanted on a stationary bike.
Overwhelmingly, participants who chose the Fitness trail mix consumed more of it and also opted to work out far less vigorously than those who chose the “normal” trail mix. Through simple marketing, people internalized the message that this trail mix was a light, fit snack, and that exercise was therefore less necessary or not necessary at all. However, diet foods are in many ways just as unhealthy or more unhealthy than foods considered unhealthy. You see, when food producers try to make a food seem leaner by cutting fat, they often add sugar and sodium to make it taste as great as the real thing.
Take breakfast cereals for example. Cereals like General Mills’ Total Raisin Bran, Kellogg’s Smart Start, or Kellogg’s Low-Fat Granola all contain more grams of sugar per serving than a powdered sugar donut at Dunkin Donuts. All of their boxes encourage a health-conscious lifestyle. But if a consumer decides to eat more in one sitting AND exercise less often, their sugar intake could skyrocket.
What’s worse, it’s not just an American problem. In the UK, the University of Hertfordshire discovered that foods from 7 major supermarkets marketed as healthy options for children in fact contained more sugar, fat, and salt than the same healthy foods marketed towards adults. Either way, we’ve got a mega-sized marketing mix-up here. In closing, don’t be fooled by a pair of running shoes, a happy sun, or pictures of happy, rugged hikers.
Always read nutrition facts and the ingredient list of foods before you buy, and hey, it’s better to eat less of the real thing than to eat more of a processed clone. And hey, if you want to see more of me, why don’t you check out this fun video on Sourcefed, where I talk about the Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza?