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.
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