Dieters are typically typecast as health-conscious people who do nothing but count calories before every meal, checking sugar and fat content along the way. And they are usually thought as more likely to make wise choices in terms of the food that they eat, and how healthy these foods are.
A group of researchers, however, conducted a study that indicated otherwise. It seems that dieters are the ones who are more prone to judge how healthy a certain dish is hastily, based only on its label or its name, as opposed to its ingredients. The study is shared in a feature on Time.com.
The authors of the study – Caglar Irmak, assistant professor of marketing at University of South Carolina; Beth Vallen, assistant professor of marketing at Loyola University Maryland; and Stefanie Rosen Robinson, a graduate student at University of South Carolina – said: “Thus, dieters are likely to assume that an item assigned an unhealthy name (for example, pasta) is less healthy than an item assigned a healthy name (for example, salad), and they do not spend time considering other product information that might impact their product evaluations.”
The researchers conducted a series of experiments where participants, who consisted of people who were on a diet and people who were not, were expected to evaluate how healthy and tasty certain foods were. One such experiment called for the participants to determine how healthy the “daily salad special” or the “daily pasta special” was. They were to make the judgment based on the ingredient lists and photos of the entrees – which were basically identical.
The study determined that the ratings given by the participants seem to be influenced by the label assigned to the dish. Dieters rated the “pasta” dish as significantly less healthy when compared against the ratings of non-dieters.