I read and witnessed a few things this week that really opened my eyes to just how effective food marketing can be at making adults believe certain things about the foods they eat. Here are a few examples…

1) I read an article in Medical News Today about a study that showed that adults who take a dietary supplement (assuming it was a multivitamin of some sort) are less likely to eat healthily and do things to support their own health and well-being. The following is a passage from the article;

The results from the experiments and survey demonstrated that participants who believed they had taken dietary supplements felt invulnerable to health hazards, thus leading them to engage in health-risk behaviors. Specifically, participants in the perceived supplement use group expressed less desire to engage in exercise and more desire to engage in hedonic activities, preferred a buffet over an organic meal (Experiment 1), and walked less to benefit their health (Experiment 2) than the control group.

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Just ignore the fact that they are implying that an “organic meal” is automatically better for you than a buffet. I wish they wouldn’t have written that. But these experimental results imply that adults are assuming that supplements can make up for a healthy diet. Well, unfortunately, they are sorely mistaken.

2) I received my Nutrition Action Healthletter in the mail this week, and inside there was an article about how external cues in our environment make us overeat. Two of those cues had to do with food marketing. First, a study showed that people ate 46 percent more calories when they were told food was “low fat”, even if they had rated the food as less appetizing as the original full-fat food. Second, people estimated the calories of organic food to be 15 to 20 percent lower than it’s a non-organic counterpart, when in fact they were both the same. Both of these examples indicated that people were influenced negatively by food labels and marketing claims. Low fat does not mean low calories, and neither does “organic”. Don’t be fooled!

3) I went to dinner on Monday night with a friend from work. She told me she was using Slim-Fast to help her lose some weight. Soon after this, she ordered fried chicken and french fries. No joke. To me, this indicated that she believed she could lose weight by using Slim-Fast, despite anything else she ate. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe she just wanted a “break from the diet”, but really? This is why fad diets don’t work. You never learn how to actually eat healthily and keep the weight off after it’s lost. I’ll wait for her to ask me for help before I offer it, I just kept my mouth shut.

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Question: How do you react when people tell you something that you know just isn’t true? People tell me crazy things they’ve heard from the radio, tv, magazines, etc. all the time. It’s hard to keep a straight face sometimes, but I try to give my honest opinion without being rude. That’s what I’m here for….right??!!