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Consumers Seem To Think, Erroneously, That Organic Means “Low Calorie”

June 29, 2010: 11:01 PM EST
Sales in the U.S. of organic food products have soared in the last twenty years from about $1 billion to $25 billion in 2009, as the obesity rate among American adults climbed to 33 percent. Perhaps, a new study involving 114 university students finds, that’s because consumers believe that a food labeled organic is somehow lower in calories than a comparable non-organic food, even when the label clearly shows the caloric contents are equivalent. The phenomenon extends even to physical activity: not exercising is deemed okay if a person has just eaten an organic dessert. People “erroneously infer that [organic food] is lower-calorie and that it can be eaten more frequently,” the researchers said, adding that “benevolent impressions of organic foods” will affect food choices and other health-related decisions.
Jonathon P. Schuldt and Norbert Schwarz, "The “organic” path to obesity? Organic claims influence calorie judgments and exercise recommendations", Judgment and Decision Making, June 29, 2010, © Judgment and Decision Making
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