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What’s in a name?

Posted on 25th May 2011 in Industry News, Insight, Interesting Stuff
Written by: Gemma Buckley-Roberts

I read a really interesting article by David Russell in University Caterer this morning. David discusses some new US research  about how food labelling can impact on dieters’ healthy choices.

The findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research, they showed people a menu  featuring a dish described as “onions & red peppers tossed with pasta shells, diced tomatoes, salami, mozzarella cheese, dressed with a savoury herb vinaigrette. Served chilled on a bed of Fresh Romaine lettuce.” The dish was described as a pasta dish to half of  consumers and a salad to the remaining. Those on a diet thought the dish sounded healthier when it was called a salad regardless that the dish contained 900 calories and 60g of fat!

In a second test students were given Jellybeans, which were described as either ‘candy chews’ or ‘fruit chews’. The students who were told the Jellybeans were ‘fruit chews’ though they were healthier and ate more as a result. The research goes on to suggest that dieters are more vulnerable to how food and drink is marketed, and can easily be misled and confused about what they can eat. Ultimately dieters are making the wrong choices  buying in to low fat, lite, etc marketing messages than those who aren’t on a diet, who tend to assess products by content then the label.

I’ve been on a diet since Lent and so far have lost just over a stone just but cutting out the rubbish, reducing my wine intake and introducing more fruit and veg.  It’s worrying to read that people’s best efforts can be sabotaged by a bit of clever marketing – my advice  always read the label on the back rather than the front of the packaging.