Caloric estimation of healthy and unhealthy foods in normal-weight, overweight and obese participants

Larkin, Derek and Martin, Colin R. (2017) Caloric estimation of healthy and unhealthy foods in normal-weight, overweight and obese participants. Eating Behaviors, 23. pp. 91-96. ISSN 14710153

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Individuals make dietary choices each time they consume food or drink, and assign labels to each item, such as un/healthy, high/low in calories, high/low in nutrients. These labels are thought to be snap judgments based on prior, and often limited nutritional knowledge. The aim of this study was to examine the perception of the caloric content of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods. Participants (N=141) rated 53 food images on perceived healthiness/un-healthiness alongside the caloric content. Participants were subdivided into three groups: BMI (normal-weight, overweight, obese). Foods perceived as healthy were systematically underestimated in their caloric content, whereas foods perceived as unhealthy were consistently overestimated. Weight status influenced caloric estimations of foods perceived as healthy, but not to foods perceived as unhealthy. However, not all foods were consistently labeled as healthy or unhealthy, on these occasions weight salience appears not to have influenced estimations of caloric content. Findings suggest that weight status impacts participant's caloric estimation of foods perceived as healthy, but only marginally for unhealthy foods. Foods that confound the dichotomous labeling of healthy or unhealthy appear to gain a ‘branding’ that confers either greater or fewer calories than they actually contain, on these occasions weight salience does not appear to influence the labeling; implications are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Food, Obesity, Calories estimation, Food Perception, Food Labels
Divisions: ?? BucksNewUniversity ??
Depositing User: Professor Colin Martin
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2017 15:26
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2019 03:00

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