Look, on the Shelf, it?s a Health Halo! | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

Look, on the Shelf, it?s a Health Halo!

Posted by: on Wednesday January 23, 2019

Article originally appears in the January 17, 2019 issue of the SNEB eCommunicator.

It all started with the ‘puffs.’ Veggie puffs to be specific. OK, cauliflower and  brussel sprout puffs. A look at the nutrition information uncovered the facts: 8 grams of fat/serving (similar to regular potato chips) and made with veggie powder. I’ve just been the target of the health halo effect. What is this effect? It’s when one attribute of a food confers the perception of health to the food whether or not it is a good/healthy food choice. Read on…

**The ‘health halo effect’: perception and myth – a single claim, such as ‘gluten-free,’ can influence consumers to have a positive opinion of a food.

**What is the health halo? Part I How it affects our eating choices – in addition to the ‘health halo’ this RD says we are ‘cognitive misers’ – we use mental shortcuts to make decisions and the ‘health halo’ is one shortcut. The health halo examples she shares: superfoods, organic foods, veggie sticks, smoothies and more.

**Tips for shopping at the farmers market – a reminder that just because it’s sold at the farmers market doesn’t mean it’s healthy!

**Can packaging give your food a ‘health halo’? – study participants ate more of granola bites (perceived as healthy) compared to cookies when given the choice between a bag or pre-portioned option.

**‘Health halo’ effects of food ads can mislead kids – children who viewed TV ads of unhealthy foods with healthy lifestyle messages rated the foods as more healthful when compared to children who saw ads for similar products but with a different health message.

Journal article
The role of perceived variability and the health halo effect in nutritional inference and consumption – a 10-page deep dive into the health halo and 4 studies using potato chips, orange juice and chocolate

Registered dietitians/nutritionists weigh in on the health halo
**So-called ‘healthy foods’ dietitians wouldn’t (or rarely) eat – includes organic, gluten-free cookies, vitamin water and my favorite veggie puffs

**The 5 most confusing health halo food terms – 1 RD’s take: natural, organic, local, gluten-free, grass-fed

**8 health halo foods that are far from angelic – an RDN shares her list…organic candy, agave syrup, granola, baked chips, some yogurts, 100-calorie packs and 100% wheat bread

**These foods have a serious health halo – this RD lists Greek yogurt, pressed juice, veggie chips, turkey, gluten-free, organic and kale

**10 healthy foods nutritionists won’t touch – RDs offer their suggestions:  whole-grain products, coconut flakes, açaí bowls, granola, trail mix, flavored yogurt, beef jerky, popcorn, soy protein foods, protein powder supplements