Monday, July 19, 2010

Organic food makes you fat.

I have blogged about the effects of nutrition labeling before. One finding I have pointed to before is that low fat products increase the number of calories that people consume because people feel entitled to eat more of them, even though the fat is often replaced with the same number of calories of sugar that were removed in the fat. This is true of things like low fat cookies and chips, but not originally healthful foods like fruits and vegetables.

A new study again shows that there are unforeseen consequences of labels that must be accounted for in the development of public policy and standards. Schuldt and Schwartz just published a study in the journal Judgment and Decision Making that found that foods labeled “organic” had the same effect. People assumed that organic foods have fewer calories and thus felt entitled to eat more of them. So the total caloric intake was higher. In fact, the more sensitive the consumers were to organic foods (i.e. environmentalists), the greater the effect this had (even though these individuals should have been more aware that organic processing does not impact calories at all).

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