The ‘healthy option’ – is it just an excuse to overeat?

Products and foods marketed as low fat or healthy are viewed by consumers as an excuse to overeat.

How our portion sizes have changed from 20 years ago. portion control

Research conducted by the all-Ireland nutritional awareness body Safefood  have found that Irish people eat up to a staggering 71% more than the recommended portion of healthy foods. They will consume considerably more than the standard product.

One of the examples found was with a  lower fat coleslaw, 126g eaten in comparison to 74g of a luxury brand. This was also the same with breakfast cereals with larger portions of Special K than Frosties consumed but the problem being that this could lead to gaining weight over time Safefood said.

Professor Barbara Livingstone, the lead researcher of the University of Ulster said consumers were being swayed by the “health halo” of some products.

Close-up of nutrition information. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

She said, “They see them as representing the less guilty option and so eat more. Further education on what is a healthy portion size is warranted to overcome these misconceptions.”

Results show that portion sizes are between 28 and 71 per cent larger than the recommended amount by research conducted on 180 Irish adults.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan of Safefood said that over the past 20 years there had been a massive increase in the amount of foods with nutrition and health claims but the population was still getting fatter.

“The research shows that these foods are viewed by some consumers as a licence to overeat,” Dr Foley-Nolan said.

“However, in the case of many products, the fat that is removed in the ‘healthier’ product is replaced by other ingredients, such as sugar, and the calorie savings are small.”

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The ‘healthy option’- is it just an excuse to overeat?

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