Do Health Claims Always Lead to Obesity? the Role of Consumers’ Lay Theories About Low-Nutrients in Consumer Product Evaluation

Pierrick Gomez, Reims Management School and Université Paris Dauphine, France
In this research, the author proposes that consumers hold two main lay theories about low-nutrient food (e.g. low-fat food). They believe that low-nutrient food is healthy and/or that it is tasteless. In three studies, the author provides evidence of the fact that these lay theories are predominant among consumers and that they are related in different ways to BMI, weight concern and intuition that unhealthy food is tasty. The author finds that in comparison with “tasteless” theorists, “healthy” theorists infer that low-fat products are lower in calories and can be eaten in larger portions and more frequently. However, low-sugar claims encourage the belief that low-nutrient food is tasteless and consequently counterbalance biased estimation of low-nutrients food that results from perceived health benefits. Finally, the author proposes that this debiasing effect results from the reduction in anticipated eating enjoyment.
[ to cite ]:
Pierrick Gomez (2011) ,"Do Health Claims Always Lead to Obesity? the Role of Consumers’ Lay Theories About Low-Nutrients in Consumer Product Evaluation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 749-750.