20141007-FoodLabelling-600x298.jpg

“Organic” candy and soda “with antioxidants” are healthier than the regular versions—that’s what American consumers want to believe. 

Health Buzzwords Mislead Consumers

October 7, 2014

20141007-FoodLabelling-600x298.jpg

“Organic” candy and soda “with antioxidants” are healthier than the regular versions—that’s what American consumers want to believe.

By labeling foods with key buzzwords like “whole grain” and “all-natural,” food marketers place a “health halo” over their products, a recent study found. Participants in the study rated these products as significantly more healthy—even when the foods’ nutrition panels contradict the marketing. Consumers might assume a food labeled low-cholesterol, for example, is nutritious in ways that have nothing to do with cholesterol.

Communications professor Jonathon Schuldt is not surprised by the study’s results. These highly effective marketing messages take advantage of people’s desire to make healthier choices—but then, it’s the food companies’ job to sell their products. Schuldt told the Los Angeles Times, “At the end of the day it’s still soda. If you don’t want your children consuming sugar, you shouldn’t give it to them, whether it has antioxidants or not.”

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.