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Green Calorie Labels May Send False Impression of “Healthy”

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Close your eyes and imagine you are
hungry while you wait in a grocery store checkout line. If you were then given two candy bars—one with a red calorie label and the other with a green—which would you perceive as healthier?

If you said green, you are in the majority. Of 93 students in a recent Cornell study, most perceived the green-labeled bar as more healthy than the red one, even though calorie content was the same.

“More and more, calorie labels are
popping up on the front of food packaging, including the wrappers of sugary snacks like candy bars. And currently, there’s little oversight of these labels,” said Jonathon Schuldt, PhD, assistant professor of communication and director of Cornell’s Social Cognition and Communication Lab. “Our research suggests that the color of calorie labels may have an effect on whether people perceive the food as healthy, over and above the actual nutritional information conveyed by the label, such as calorie
content.”

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Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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