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Study Shows Dieters are Easily Misled

Study Shows Dieters are Misled Easily by Loaded Wording Describing Foods

Apr 25th, 2011 • Posted in: News

In related news, FTC cracks down on diet ads that designed to look like news


A new study claims that dieters are misled easily by deceptive food labels and packaging that trumpet “healthy” foods.

MSNBC reports that the researchers from the University of South Carolina and Loyola University say dieters are likely to assume that something with a healthy-sounding name, such as “salad,” is indeed better for them than something named “pasta.”

Seventy-six people were approached randomly and asked to rate the healthiness of a particular dish. Dieters were more likely than non-dieters to be fooled into rating highly a “daily salad special” over a “daily pasta special” — even though they were the same dish and the subjects were given a list of ingredients, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Subjects also tended to consume more of a snack when it was called a “fruit chew” rather than a “candy chew.”

The study could point to some important ethical implications involving marketing and attempts to stem the obesity crisis. Reports TIME magazine: “Given the ubiquity of health-washed products currently on store shelves — potato chips marketed as ‘veggie chips,’ milk shakes sold as ’smoothies,’ sugary drinks repositioned as ‘flavored water’ — that could lead to a lot of confusion [according to the study].”

In related news, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week asked federal courts in 10 separate cases to halt those ubiquitous ads featuring fake news announcements promoting acai berry diets and other products, reports theChicago Sun-Times. The suits claim that the defendants try to make it appear that they belong to legitimate news-gathering organizations.

“Almost everything about these sites is fake — the weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor,” David Vladeck of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement, reports the Sun-Times.


In a new study, it has been shown that dieters are easilly misled by catchy wording on food packages that make the food sound healthier than it is. The study showed that people were more likely to think a food was healthy just by the wording, even when the dishes were exactly the same, and they were given a list of ingredients. This stirs up an issue as to whether or not food companies should be regulated on how they name their products and market them. At the same time I think it is more up to the dieter than the company to pick foods that are healthy for them. 

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