The experiment aims to determine if health claims or nutrition composition found on food packages affects the consumption based on the calories estimation. For the purpose of the experiment, I will use my family as the research subject and observe how health claim will influence the eating habits for my family. While exploring my family fridge, I discovered there are two types of cookies. One cookie packet is from the brand Unreal. The cookies contain a label of written low calories. The cookies also contain the label 'no artificial' on it. The cookies are high in nutrition and provide a low level of carbohydrates in comparison to regular cookies. Whole grain flour is used to prepare Unreal cookies. The cookies have a high concentration of Vitamin B1, B2, B3 AND E. A similar cookie box of Oreo is in the fridge. The Oreo box contains no health claims. My experiment will assess if my family members will prefer the cookies with the health claim or the Oreos without any health claim. After two days, I noticed that the Oreo box was empty while the Unreal box was more than half full.
Inferential mechanism influences consumers to assume that food products in the same category contain similar nutrition composition (Chandon, & Wansik, 2007). I investigated further to determine why my family preferred the Oreos over the Unreal cookies. I questioned my dad why he consumed more of the Oreo cookies than the Unreal, yet the Unreal were healthier than the Oreo cookies. To my surprise, my father informed me that he had read the health claim on the Unreal box and made an assumption that the health facts applied to all cookies thus he was not aware that the cookies differed in nutrition composition. Inferential mechanism made my dad make inference on the nutrition composition of the Oreo based on information on the Unreal packet. This assumption was profoundly misguided. Oreo contains almost twice the amount of calories in comparison to Unreal.
Self- regulation mechanism makes consumers regulate the number of unhealthy foods they consume by substituting a portion of it with healthy foods (Chandon, & Wansik, 2007). The Oreo cookies though unhealthy are quite tasty which create motivation to consume more of the product to satisfy the hedonic utility. Unreal cookies are not tasty but are considered healthy. Consumption of Unreal cookies is mainly motivated by the utilitarian goal to keep a healthy diet. Mum confessed that she only consumed at least one of the Oreo cookies for each five Unreal cookies she ate. Though she was tempted to eat more of the Oreo cookies, guilty to watch her weight did not allow her. When I questioned why she could not entirely avoid the Oreo cookies, she stated that consumption of only small amounts of Oreo cookies did not increase her calories intake.
The health halo is attributed to consumption of low calories foods but supplementing them with a high calories side dish or consumption of high calories foods and supplementing them with low calories dishes. My sister only consumed the Unreal cookies since she was watching her weight. Ironically for each three cookies she ate, she drank a glass of Sonny D juice which was almost equivalent to drinking sugar water. Thus my sister was a pure case of the U.S health halo.
The health halo affects consumers consumption behavior. Consumers are likely to purchase products with high calories and low nutrient levels as long as the product fall in the category of foods that has advertised itself as healthy products. Consumers who purchase unhealthy main dishes will prefer a healthy dessert while those who buy a healthy main dish are likely to eat an unhealthy dessert. Advertising just one health claim of a product is sufficient to camouflage any other unhealthy attribute of the product. Provided the products have good taste, consumers will underestimate its calories content to justify consuming it.
Chandon, P. & Wansik, B. 2007. The biasing health halos of fast food restaurant health claims: lower calorie estimates and higher side-dish consumption intentions. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(2), 301-315.
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