Most of us would like to spend time scrutinizing food labels while grocery shopping, but the sad truth is that few of us do. (One study, done in 2011, found that only 9 percent of people scan labels looking for the calorie count of a particular item.)
Instead, we buy food items for other reasons. A big one: The logo that appears on the front of the package. If it's from a charitable or health organization--like the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or the World Wildlife Fund--shoppers immediately assume that the product is healthy or natural, and then purchase it, according to a study done at the University of Oregon.
While organizations may partner with companies for a variety of reasons--for instance, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics partnered with Kraft Foods to raise awareness on the importance of calcium and vitamin D in exchange for the right to use the academy's "Kids Eat Right" logo on Kraft cheeses--people usually take the logo as a sign of endorsement. And those "endorsements" influence their buying habits.
The lesson, say researchers: Take a moment to check the label and see if the item is really healthy before you decide to toss it in the cart.
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