Study Shows How Organic Labels Trick People Into Eating More


Photo credit: Ericskiff

Three years ago we were appalled when Organic Oreos were launched, convinced that the organic label was being misused to make a fat and calorie rich product somehow healthier. Now a new study, reported in Livescience, confirms that not only do people think it is healthier, but that organic products like this actually are less fattening. And the study actually used those Oreos.114 students were asked to read the labels of both conventional Oreos, and the ones made with organic sugar and flour. Then they were asked which they could eat more of. Most thought that the organic Oreos had fewer calories and that they could eat more of them.

In another test,

215 college students read a story about a character who wanted to lose weight, but wanted to skip her usual after-dinner run. Participants read she had eaten either an organic or regular non-organic dessert. Then they rated whether it was OK for her to skip the run.

The participants were more lenient toward the character if she had eaten the organic dessert instead of the conventional one.

So a product with just as many calories, just as much fat from a whole lot of palm oil are percieved to be healthier to the point that you can skip your after dinner run. Even though, as we pointed out in the earlier post, the cookies are not even really organic. (they have all kinds of other ingredients, and carefully claim that they are made from organic sugar and flour). A researcher concluded:

"I think the take-home point is that, in everyday judgments and decisions, organic foods might be treated as something they're not," said study researcher Jonathon P. Schuldt, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Michigan. "They might be treated as health foods that are lower calorie when in fact that's not always the case."

Perhaps the USDA should look more closely at how the word "Organic" is being misused. And perhaps college students should learn what it actually means. More in Livescience

More on organic labeling:
Has the 'Organic' Label Become the Biggest Greenwashing Campaign in the US?
"Sustainable" Label Offered As Alternative to " Organic "
Organic and Air Freighted? Maybe Not For Much Longer...
Organic Labels Coming Off Cosmetics & Lotions
US Consumers Prefer "100% Natural" Food Label
Does Organic Also Mean Sustainable or Just Non-Toxic?

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Tags: Ethical