Tags: Green Labels Make Junk Food Seem Healthy

Study: Green Labels Make Junk Food Seem Healthy

By    |   Wednesday, 13 March 2013 04:00 PM

“Greenwashing” — the practice of making a product seem more healthy or eco-friendly than it may actually be — is particularly effective when it comes to food labels, a new study shows. A Cornell University researcher has found junk food with green calorie labels is more likely to be seen as a healthier product.
The study, published in the journal Health Communication, determined consumers are more likely to perceive a candy bar as more healthful when it has a green calorie label compared with when it had a red one — even though the number of calories are the same.

This is particularly true among consumers who place high importance on healthy eating, said Jonathon Schuldt, an assistant professor of communication and director of Cornell's Social Cognition and Communication Lab.
"More and more, calorie labels are popping up on the front of food packaging, including the wrappers of sugary snacks like candy bars,” said Schuldt. "Our research suggests that the color of calorie labels may have an effect on whether people perceive the food as healthy, over and above the actual nutritional information conveyed by the label, such as calorie content.”
For the study, Schuldt asked 93 university students to imagine that they were hungry and see a candy bar while waiting in a grocery store. The students were presented a candy bar with either a red or a green calorie label and asked to say whether the treat contained more or fewer calories and how healthy it was.
The results showed the students perceived the green-labeled bar as more healthful than the red one, even though the calorie content was the same.
Schuldt repeated the experiment with 39 online participants who were shown candy with either green or white labels and the results were the same. But the online survey also indicated the more importance participants placed on healthy eating, the more they perceived the white-labeled candy bar as less healthful than the green one.
"The green calorie labels buffer relatively poor nutrition foods from appearing less healthful among those especially concerned with healthy eating," Schuldt said.
"As government organizations including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration consider developing a uniform front-of-package labeling system for the U.S. marketplace, these findings suggest that the design and color of the labels may deserve as much attention as the nutritional information they convey."

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A Cornell University researcher has found junk food with green calorie labels is more likely to be seen as a healthier product to consumers.
Green Labels Make Junk Food Seem Healthy
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 04:00 PM
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