Healthy food ‘could make Brits fatter'

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Healthy food ‘could make Brits fatter'

Related tags: Nutrition

Dishes labelled as 'healthy' could be making Britons fatter, academics have warned.

Consumers often believe healthy food to be less filling, so end up eating more and putting themselves at a greater risk of obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research​.

Studies were carried out on three groups of students whose levels of consumption and hunger were measured while, and after, eating food labelled as either healthy or unhealthy.


Researcher Jacob Suther told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​: "When the same food is labelled as healthy as opposed to unhealthy, people feel hungrier after eating the same amount, order greater amounts of the foods and eat larger portions."

This happened even when calorie information was provided, he said. However, when food was described as 'nourishing' or 'strengthening', rather than 'healthy', subjects did not feel the need to overcompensate by ordering and eating more.


"This is especially important for calorie-dense foods like cookies or burritos that are often portrayed as healthy because of natural ingredients.

"Furthermore, dining-out venues that cater to customers who value feeling full and are limited by time or money could portray low-calorie items such as salads as more unhealthy than they normally do."

While this might seem counter-intuitive, Suther said it could increase the acceptance of lighter foods among people who believe it is important to feel full and increase satiation levels after consumption.

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