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With a wrong criterion, according to a new study: we tend to think that if something costs so much is also healthy

healthy food

Dimenticativi labeled with nutritional values, the list of ingredients and the approval of experts: according to a new study people who shop evaluate a food as healthy only when it costs more. The study, which will be published shortly in the Journal of Consumer Research,


 is the latest proof of how our brains can work against us when it comes to choosing healthy foods. The researchers argue that the way unconsciously associate the cost to health - which define as "intuition greet = expensive" - ​​can push people not only to spend more money but also to make uninformed choices without realizing it. "Often we wonder how customers elaborate information about what they should eat," said Kelly Haws, marketing professor at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the new study, "the truth is that we give them a ton


of information and who can not process them all. "
Haws and other researchers who deal with behavioral economics have a name for this phenomenon: heuristic. Essentially, the heuristic describes any kind of mental shorthand that we use to simplify our decisions. Instead of consciously evaluate all the information we have about a product - the amount of calories, the ingredients, the brand, the location in the store - our brain relies on simple assumptions, such as the belief that health foods costing more and more. These assumptions may be deeply wrong, especially when given in too large a number of situations. When it comes to power we use extensively to these suppositions: according to a 2013 study published in the journal Appetite, the basis of most of our food choices is the heuristic, and not a rational decision. Considering its spread, said Haws, the heuristic assumption that "healthy equals expensive" can have profound implications on customer choices and, by extension, public health, especially considering it seems to be very compelling for consumers who They
To test the heuristic power, Haws and his two co-authors - Rebecca Reczek of Ohio State and Kevin Sample of the University of Georgia - have conducted five experiments on several hundred university students. In the first two, participants were shown a "new" food product, of which they had to try to guess the price or value in terms of health benefits. In both versions of the experiment, the subjects were assigned a higher price to healthier products and better valuations in terms of health to the more expensive foods. In the third experiment, participants were asked to order the sandwich healthier by choosing between two options. The subjects have regularly chosen the most expensive sandwich, even when the researchers reversed the prices. In the fourth experiment, the subjects rated a little-known vitamins, DHA, as the most important for a healthy diet when it was presented as part of an expensive energy mix, compared to another average. "Customers apply excessively the belief that healthy is equivalent to expensive This suggests that this assumption might influence the perception of what ingredients are" healthy "," they wrote the authors of the study in the conclusions of the fourth experiment.
In the last experiment, participants were asked to evaluate the reviews instead of a new protein bar say hello, which cost 99 cents or $ 4. The subjects read for much longer reviews finger from 99 cents, sign - according to researchers - that most of them did not believe that a "healthy" product could cost so little. "The results of our study suggest that consumers perceive very strongly that healthy is equivalent to expensive," said Haws, "and this has a big impact on their food choices." Specifically, the potentially health-conscious people are spending too much and buy products that do not necessarily do well, while more people conscious money could ignore the big choice of cheap and healthy options in their supermarket. Anyone who is likely to assess the promotional statements in health and nutrition - as, for example, the importance of vitamin DHA - exclusively on the basis of the product price.

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According Haws there's more. Intuition greet = expensive is just one of the "endless mental shortcuts" to which we rely on to choose the food, many of which appear to be wrong. Previous studies, for example, speak of an "enormous damage" that leads people to ignore the amount of calories and other health information when food seem beneficial from an economic point of view. The majority of Americans also applies the so-called "intuition unhealthy = good", that is, the belief that to have a good taste a food should not necessarily be healthy.
Also the shape of the food packaging has its weight. Recently, some researchers in the Netherlands found that according to the customers foods sold in thinner packages are healthier. "They read the labels? Process information? Probably not, "said Deborah Cohen, a scientist at Rand Corp. and author of the book A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Influences Behind the Obesity Epidemic - and How We Can End It." The problem in grocery shopping is that it requires a lot of decisions. But the people who shop have a limited processing capacity. In terms of the right decisions every person has a limit beyond which begins to take mental shortcuts, such as to assume that expensive foods are healthy. "
Unfortunately for the health-conscious people to reset this kind of beliefs it is difficult, because in the end is a normal part of our psychology. That is why people like Cohen argue the need for increased vigilance on marketing strategies within the stores, which according to Cohen exploit the mental exhaustion of customers. Some behavioral economists - like Antoinette Schoar MIT and Saugato Datta of ideas42 - pushing for the adoption of public health programs that rely heuristics. Typical interventions provide a food deepening teaching: programs for power classes for the high school students recommended by the US Department of Agriculture, for example, is 84 pages long. "The education campaigns seek to facilitate complex decisions by providing complex information just as people," they wrote Schoar and Datta in 2014, "instead of people to flood the complex information, we think that these campaigns should focus on developing, testing and distributing simple but effective rules of thumb, or "heuristics". "

As for the diet, a common technique is to create (and follow) a few simple rules: "eat salad with every meal," for example, or "never eat chocolate." Haws uses heuristics in his own way: "Expensive does not equate to say hello." As for the other people, according to the easier strategy to avoid falling into the intuition greet = expensive it is to remember that it is not true while you shop or you are at the table. Haws is that Cohen recommended to arrive at the supermarket with a list of already made spending, which is the best way to defend themselves from their mental shortcuts. While turning to the Haws supermarket is repeated in the lead also a mental list of affordable and healthy foods. "You've probably heard of the concept of eating without thinking. The idea is the same, "said Haws," all you need is awareness: stop, take a second and think about it. "

Cibo e salute: le dieci regole d’oro

To live well you have to eat well, to live long must eat several times a day, to live in energetic way you have to introduce many good carbohydrates, and aging should eat very little fat and eat a little of everything '. This is the paradigm of good nutrition. The World Health Organization and the FAO defines the food education "the informational and educational process through which it pursues the general improvement of the state of nutrition of individuals, by promoting proper eating habits, the elimination of eating behaviors not satisfactory, the use of more hygienic handling of food and efficient use of food resources. "

And, in this regard, the Charter of Milan Expo 2015 encourages "good health through good food", understood as the process of enabling people to increase control over their own health and improve it.
But how do you recognize a careful consumer nutrition education? By its healthy and responsible lifestyle. And that is, that consumes foods to "kilometer zero" (ie predominantly local foods), which is moderately carnivore, enough fish lover, and that is never lacking lots of fruits and vegetables.
To be able to hit all of these goals can be useful this Decalogue.

 EACH DAY TO DO AT LEAST 5 PA STI.

 Starting from pre-school, the energy ration should be divided into five meals a day according to this scheme: breakfast (15%), mid-morning snack (5%), balanced lunch (40%), snack in the afternoon (10% ) and dinner (30%). To better understand the concept of subdivision we take for example the average power of a person between 18 and 50 years old who assumes 2,000 daily calories, in this case the calorie intake (kcal) per meal will be: 400 kcal breakfast, morning snack 150 kcal, 700 kcal lunch, afternoon snack of 150 kcal, 600 kcal dinner.

MAKE A GOOD BREAKFAST. 

Be varied and comprehensive, cereal or baked goods, milk or yogurt and fruit, providing at said at least 15 percent of daily calorie intake, appropriate to age and lifestyle.

 WALK AND MOVE FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES PER DAY

. Depending on the age and opportunities can be considered as physical activity also play or simple exercises, such as climbing stairs and move on foot or by bicycle. Even classically activities for housework do burn calories, as well as dancing.

 DO NOT JUMP EVER PA STI.

 always have to be five a day: it is possibly better to limit your portions.

 ALWAYS MEET THE MEANING OF THIRST

. Indeed, it is good to anticipate groped, drinking enough. It is healthy to drink small amounts of water frequently.

6) PROMOTING THE NON sedentary. Before you turn on the TV or the computer for our children, we consider the possibility of spending the same time doing physical activities with them making a trip outside or preferring a walk outdoors. The time to devote to the small screen may be delayed, reduced or canceled in favor of motor activity. This way you can improve the health and quality of time spent with the family.

 CHANGING THE CHOICE OF FOOD FOR LUNCH AND DINNER.

 The variety of food is certainly one of the best ways to ensure the proper nutritional intake. In addition, a pleasant food if repeated to excess and in the near future may be unwelcome. We offer fruits and vegetables of different types and varieties so even if presented several times a day, our children will be able to appreciate them.

 LIMIT THE SALE

. The recommended intake is 5 grams per day to the maximum. Each gram of salt contains about 0.4 grams of sodium. Under normal conditions an adult needs 100-600 mg of sodium per day, or about 0.25-1.5 grams of salt. The diet of the Italians make on average almost 12 grams of salt a day, far exceeding the real needs. Starting from these values ​​the simple reduced supply of sodium in the diet to not more than 100 mmol / day (6 g of salt) reduces the blood pressure of 2-8 mmHg. It is true that during the summer, when sweating grows, so does the baking needs, especially in sports. But in a balanced diet it is advisable not to take more than 6 grams of salt per day.

 PAY ATTENTION TO SNACK

. It is good to worry about the quality of the ingredients as well as the composition of the snack. It is always useful to read the nutrition label. We must balance the snack with the other meals of the day. Must be appropriate, complete a varied and balanced as part of an active lifestyle.

 TO BE EXAMPLE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

. The child learns primarily by imitation, especially in the first part of life, but also after, following the family behaviors. E 'therefore necessary that adults learn to follow healthy lifestyles. Finally, parents must work together with the teachers in nutrition and mobility of

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