Have you long suspected that many items you see on menus billed as “salads” are really just gloppy messes of pasta and mayonnaise prettied up for the weight conscious?
You may be right in your inkling, and if you think the nameology bestowed upon certain less than healthy dishes in restaurants and on store shelves is luring misguided or in-denial dieters, that could be part of the problem as well. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research measured the impact of product names on the food consumption habits of dieters and non-dieters alike, and the research found including words like “salad” or “fruit chew” significantly upped dieters’ acceptance of otherwise non-diet-friendly foods.
The study somewhat sanctimoniously referred to the dishes as “salads in name only,” citing milkshakes called “smoothies,” potato chips billed as “veggie chips” and sugar-laden beverages dubbed “flavored water” as common calorie-traps for those attempting to lose weight. One portion of the study allowed participants to snack on jelly beans- when the sweet was labeled as a “fruit chew,” study participants consumed 25% more of it than when it was simply called candy.
The study labeled dieters as “highly suggestible” when it comes to food labeling practices.