How Calling a Food ‘Light’ in Calories Can Backfire | Health info

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(Health Day)

MONDAY, Feb. 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If the label says your food is “light,” will you eat more to fill you up?

The researchers invited 37 men and women to a simple lunch of penne pasta, snack tomatoes, pesto, oregano and basil.

The meal was once described as “light” and not designed to fill them up. Another time they were told that the same meal was created to be “filling”.

Overall, diners ate more when the meal was labeled “light.” They also said they felt less full.

“It suggests that if you have this preconception, the meal you’re about to eat is going to be really filling, so maybe you’ll eat less of it,” said study co-author Paige Cunningham. candidate in nutritional sciences at Penn State University. “And if the opposite is true, if you perceive the meal to be light and not as filling, then maybe you’ll eat a bit more of it.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 18 women and 19 men through advertisements and posters, excluding those whose sense of satiety or taste might be affected by particular eating habits or health issues. health. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 65.

After eating, participants had to answer a number of questions. Among them: “How hearty did you find this pasta salad?” and “How many calories do you think you consumed?” They were also asked “How important is your health to you?”

Researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands repeated the same experiment. While it’s unclear whether the findings can be generalized to other locations, Cunningham said they were exciting.

“This effect could be leveraged to promote intake in vulnerable populations, [such as] older people who may not be fully meeting their energy needs,” she said.

“The other side of the coin may be that it warrants caution [in] the use of labels indicating the satiating power of foods,” Cunningham added. “Weight loss products or products labeled as light could possibly backfire and lead to increased consumption.

The results are published online January 15 in the journal Appetite.

Cunningham suggested that people avoid using descriptions on labels to determine whether a food will fulfill them.

“The standard advice is, no matter what the label says, just be aware of the portions you’re eating and the energy content, and the actual nutrition of the dish you’re consuming,” Cunningham said. “Just make sure you’re aware of it.”

Food labeling can help consumers make choices that meet their nutritional needs and the needs of their families, but not everyone reads a label the same way, said food and nutrition consultant Connie Diekman in St. Louis.

Some buy what they like, regardless of the label. Others look at the ingredients of the product. And still others are looking for something specific, like sodium content.

Healthy eating is all about balancing food choices, possibly finding healthier ways to prepare the foods you love, and not trying to overhaul your diet all at once, Diekman said.

It is important not only to eat in moderation, but also to enjoy your food.

“We shouldn’t eat to appease our emotions, but we should definitely enjoy the food choices we make,” Diekman said. “We shouldn’t eat because we think it’s ‘good food and if I eat it, I’ll be a good person.’ It’s about making that healthy food choice that you love.”

For example, if you eat a salad and it’s only lettuce, how much of it will you have to eat to feel like you enjoyed the meal?

If you add a bit of dressing that gives you a satisfying feel in your mouth from the fat in it, your feeling of pleasure and fullness will likely come sooner, Diekman said.

“It really helps people understand, yes, we want you to make healthy food choices using the information on a food label, but if you don’t like the food, if it’s a healthy food, it doesn’t matter. won’t matter because you won you won’t eat the right portions or you won’t eat any more,” she said.

SOURCES: Paige Cunningham, BS, graduate student, Penn State College of Health and Human Development, State College, Pennsylvania; Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, food and nutrition consultant, St. Louis; AppetiteJanuary 15, 2022, online

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