Take a look at the coleslaw samples above. Say you are having a barbeque lunch and wanted to add some slaw as a side. You can choose either the creamy coleslaw or the low fat option. Which will you opt for? How much will you eat?
That’s exactly what scientists from the University of Ulster wanted to find out. More precisely, they wanted to compare how consumers assess regular vs. “healthier” food in 3 dimensions:
- portion size
- guilt factor
The results – to be published soon in the International Journal of Obesity – are interesting, and probably not surprising. 186 people participated in the test. All of them estimated that the reduced fat coleslaw had less calories the the creamy one. They then went on to serve themselves a portion that was 71% larger than the FDA recommended serving size. Of course, less guilt was associated with eating the “healthier” food.
What can we learn from this: The moment we see health claims on a product, and it doesn’t matter if they make sense or not, we feel less guarded with the amount we are consuming. If you look at the packaged foods you buy, the majority of them have some sort of health claim on them. Which means you are most likely overeating everything…