A new study claims that health awareness campaigns fail to help obesity cases as people still make their eating choices based on just taste, and tend to avoid healthy food due to same. Study’s authors Robert Mai and Stefan Hoffmann of Kiel University, Germany, said that despite a recent trend toward healthy eating behaviors, many consumers still tend to over-consume unhealthy foods because of two facts that work in combination.
Unhealthy is widely associated with being tasty, and taste is the main driver of food decisions. There is little research on the conflict between healthiness and tastiness.
Study participants were given a variety of yogurts that differed in sugar and fat quantity. Even when they were given better information about the ingredients, this was not a sufficient to encourage choosing the healthier yogurt. The strategy was especially ineffective for those eaters who needed it most, because the least health-conscious eaters were also the least likely to take any new health information into consideration.
Even though some health-conscious eaters modified their behavior slightly when given better information on the product, both the informed and uninformed unhealthy eaters expressed firm opinions that the less healthy yogurts were tastier. It was this tastiness factor that, in the end, drove the decision-making for both healthy and unhealthy eaters, and it could not be overcome simply by raising health consciousness.
The authors concluded that “policy planners must instead find ways to make healthy foods more appealing, by improving the actual taste as well as the packaging and marketing, and by investing in social campaigns which work on consumer’s emotions and encourage a sense that healthy eating is ‘cool’ and prestigious. Overall, a holistic approach is urgently needed to find mutually beneficial strategies to combat the world’s alarming obesity epidemic.”