Posted on Aug 22, 2020

Kamna Desai - Dietitian, Mumbai

The "Health Halo" effect refers to the act of overestimating the healthfulness of a food product based on either perception or single claim, such as, low in calories or low in fat. It is a fact that, Consumers frequently confuse the tags 'low fat' with 'low calorie' leading to misconception and ultimately overconsumption of these foods because they are perceived as healthy. Most of the times we accept a completely new food whole-heartedly due to either ads or some suggestions claiming that they are beneficial for us. These mental shortcuts are closely tied to what researches call the health halo effect. This halo effect gives us license to eat more than we otherwise would; often ignoring the health implications. Health halos are not just limited to claims about calories or fat. When you see claims like High Fibre, Gut friendly, Added Vitamins and Minerals that is the first sign you are been exposed to the Health Halo. Using everything in proportion and discretion is important rather than falling for any of these marketing gimmicks. So clearly, this halo effect gives people a delusion or unwarranted goodness about the food resulting in overconsumption because they feel less guilty if a product is promoted either as healthfood or low in calories. Perhaps most troubling is that this effect is particularly strong for overweight consumers, jeopardising their intentions to eat sensibily at times.
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