Avoid the use of fitness foods if you actually want to loose weight, new research suggests. Many products on the market are high in protein, or ingredients such as oats, and claim to be free of damaging sugars and high fructose corn syrup. But the researchers say that they simply lure weight-conscious consumers into a false sense of security.
“Unless a food was forbidden by their diet, branding the product as fit increased consumption for those trying to watch their weight,” said study author Hans Baumgartner from Pennsylvania State University in the US, and colleagues. “To make matters worse, these eaters also reduced their physical activity, apparently seeing the fit food as a substitute for exercise,” the researchers said.
For the study, the researchers, from Pennsylvania State University and Technische Universitat in Munich, investigated the effects of fitness-branded food in 'restrained eaters'. All the participants were given trail-mix style snacks marked either 'fitness' or 'trail mix' with a picture of running shoes which was added to the packaging to make the 'fitness' snack appear even healthier. For those who were specifically trying to watch their weight, the effect of labelling was significant.
Overall, the researchers observed that it caused them to eat far more of the snack marked 'Fitness'. They also observed that the snackers who ate the ‘fitness’ brand also chose to expend less energy during the exercise phase of experiment.
The study was published in the Journal of Marketing Research.