Food labels easily 'fool' consumers

01st October 2012 - Fine Cut

A new study has found that 'small portion' food labels fool people into eating more, reports.

The new research follows the discovery by Which? that most people do not understand the difference in terms of calorific content between 'low-fat' and 'reduced-fat' alternatives. It demonstrated how easily consumers are tricked by product labels, trusting what they say.

Researchers found that people will eat greater quantities of a food labelled 'small', even if the items are actually of a regular size. This was demonstrated using cookies, some of which were labelled 'small' and some labelled 'medium'. Both sets of cookies were the same size.

When offered to a group of volunteers, most people chose the 'small' cookies, but ate more in the process in what was called a 'surprising act of self-delusion' - thinking that they were being healthier than if they had chosen the 'medium-sized' option, writes.

Study author, marketing professor Aradhna Krishna, said: "Just because there's a different size label attached to the same actual quantity of food, people eat more but also think they've not eaten as much."

She points out that the same tactics have been used by clothes manufacturers for years, making consumers think they are slimmer by using 'vanity sizings' - a size 12 on a size 14 dress, for example, to boost the wearer's confidence and entice them to buy.

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