Why might I be more likely to overeat organic foods?

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A few studies have focused on one of our favorite topics: the "health halo" hovering around certain foods that leads people to underestimate how much they're eating.

A study on organic foods was conducted by University of Michigan researchers and published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making. The study found that participants who looked at the nutrition facts label (which includes the calorie count) for Oreos "made with organic flour and sugar" were more likely to rate the cookies as lower-than-average in calories than were people looking at the label of conventional Oreos. "Presumably, participants inferred that, if organic cookies contain 160 calories, then the calorie content of conventional cookies -- whatever the precise amount -- is likely to be higher," the authors write.

And, the people looking at the organic cookie label were also more likely to say their cookies were appropriate to eat more often.

In a separate, but related experiment, participants were more likely to say it was okay for a hypothetical 20-year-old trying to lose weight to skip her evening run if her dinner ended with an organic dessert rather than a conventional, but otherwise identical one.

In a smaller study that also used organic Oreos, some labeled as such and others with no label at all, study participants who ate the cookies labeled as organic thought they contained 40% fewer calories than those who ate the (same) unlabeled cookies.

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