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Dieters Duped by Misleading Food Names With Healthy Words

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Dieters Duped by Misleading Food Names With Healthy Words

That “salad” might not be as healthy as you think.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina say that food companies are tricking dieters by giving junk food healthy-sounding titles.

A soon-to-be published study shows that dieters believe a product labeled as “salad” would be much healthier than one labeled “pasta.”

“The fact that people’s perceptions of healthfulness vary with the name of the food item isn’t surprising,” USC Marketing Professor Calgar Irmak said. “What is interesting is that dieters, who try to eat healthy and care about what they eat, fell into these ‘naming traps’ more than non-dieters who really don’t care about healthy eating.”

Participants in the study were given a choice between the same candy. However, one was labeled “fruit chew” while the other was named “candy chew.” Dieters perceived the fruit chews to be more healthy and even ate more as a result.

Such misleading names dupe dieters every day.

The same study shows dieters are often sucked in by restaurant salads laced with unhealthy ingredients, such as meat, bread or pasta. Common culprits also include milkshakes listed as “smoothies,” sugary drinks labeled as “flavored water” and potato chips called “veggie chips.”

Irmak says the results show the crucial need for dieters to diligently read the nutritional information on menus or on items purchased at the store. Irmak issued the following statement about the study:

“These results should give dieters pause. The study shows that dieters base their food decisions on the name of the food item instead of the ingredients of the item. As a result, they may eat more than what their dieting goals prescribe.”

Too often, Irmak says, dieters simply avoid foods based on the product names, not the actual ingredients or nutritional information.

The food companies, of course, have scores of marketing experts adept at using psychological gimmicks to make shoppers think that a cheaply-made, preservative packed product is healthy.

The naming and packaging is created to draw your mind away from the nutritional information. So forget the name, and check those nutrition facts before you buy.

Originally published on

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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