Experts have been pondering this paradox for years: As packaged foods become healthier (or, at least, not as high in fats), Americans have become more obese. One reason, according to a new study: When we think something is "healthy," we tend to eat more of it because we think good-for-you foods aren't as filling. And overeating can pack on the pounds, no matter what you consume.
That was the conclusion of researchers from the University of Texas, who published their findings in the current issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. They found that people consistently ate bigger portions if they perceived something was healthy--even if they claimed they disagreed with the notion that rice cakes (say) were less filling than chips.
One way to break the cycle of overeating, researchers suggest: Focus on how the food's nutritional value, not whether it's good or bad for you. And don't just buy something because the label says it's healthy.