A study published in Journal of Marketing Research found that consumers who eat food brands that promote fitness on the label tend to consume more and exercise less because they are presented with a false sense of security about their health, according to CBS News.
Headlines & Global News (HNGN) reports that the study investigated this particular effect of fitness branding for consumers who are conscious about their body weight. In the study, participants could choose between snacks marked with a fitness label or a simple trail mix label. There was even a picture of athletic running shoes added to the fitness-label. Afterwards, they were allowed to exercise vigorously after snacking. Those that were worried about their weight were found to be more prone to eating more of the fitness-label snack, while not exercising as rigorously as others.
In the study, the researchers, Joerg Koenigstorfer and Hans Baumgartner wrote,"It is important that more emphasis be placed on monitoring fitness cues in marketing. For example, a brand could offer gym vouchers or exercise tips instead of just implying fitness via a label or image. Reminding the consumer that exercise is still necessary may help counteract the negative effect of these fitness-branded foods."
The researchers emphasized the importance of reading labels to promote a healthier lifestyle and combat the rising levels of adult obesity. CNBC reported that around two-thirds of Americans aged 25 and above are obese or overweight.
"In part it comes down to what we call the 'health halo,' where we tend to over-indulge and take in more calories if we feel the snacks are healthy," said Dr. Holly Phillips to CBS News. "But to me it also kind of exposed this insidious way that labeling gives people who are trying to lose weight a false sense of security."