Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Eat Organic Food Or Not

There is increasing published evidence that the “ halo effect” in food may influence what and how much we eat. For example, research has shown that people tend  to eat more at fast-food restaurants claiming to serve “healthier” foods compared to regular burger and fries joint. This may be due to people letting their guard down when something is perceived to be healthy.

Food carrying an "organic" label may influence people to think that the food is more nutritious compared to "normal" food.

Organic food has been actively debated as whether they are in fact more nutritious.

In the study referenced below, the researchers conducted a double-blind, controlled trial in which 144 subjects at their local mall compared what they thought were "normal" or "organically" produced chocolate sandwich cookies, plain yogurt, and potato chips. All of the products were actually of the organic variety – they were just labeled as being “regular” or “organic.”

The subjects unanimously preferred the "organic" food samples across all group. Perhaps they believed "organic" means more nutritious and/ or tastier. This may mean that eating organic creates some sort of a placebo effect and that they are eating healthier or lower in calories.



Reference

Lee  JWC, Shimizu M and Wansink B (2011). The Health Halo Effect: Don’t Judge A Food By Its Organic Label. Paper Presented at the 2011 Experimental Biology Conference. http://experimentalbiology.org/content/default.aspx