Food labelling: Guiltless gluttony

With the on-going debate about food labelling we were intrigued to read new research that shows people are easily fooled when it comes to food labels, and will eat more of something if they believe it’s a “small” portion, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The researchers found that inconsistent portion sizes contribute to people’s uncertainty about the appropriate amount to eat. They showed that size labels chosen such as ‘small, medium and large can have a major impact on consumers’ purchase and consumption behaviour.

When people consumed a large item that was labelled “small,” they felt less guilty; the authors call this effect “guiltless gluttony.” The researchers say that consumers can continue to eat large sizes that are labelled as smaller and feel that they have not consumed too much. This can result in unintended and uninformed over-consumption, which is clearly ridden with significant health ramifications, and size labels could be contributing to obesity problems.

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