The goal of the current study was to determine whether provision of brand and caloric information affects sensory perception and consumption of a food in restrained (n = 84) and unrestrained eaters (n = 104). Using a between-subjects 2 x 2 x 3 design, female restrained and unrestrained eaters were asked to taste and rate a cookie that was labeled with a brand associated with healthful eating (Kashi (R)) or one associated with unhealthful eating (Nabisco (R)). Additionally, some participants were presented with a nutrition label alongside the brand name indicating that one serving contained 130 calories (Low-Calorie Condition), or 260 calories (High-Calorie Condition). The remaining participants were not shown a nutrition label (No Label Condition). Results indicated that those in the No Label or the High-Calorie Condition perceived the healthful branded cookie to have a better flavor than those who received the unhealthful branded cookie regardless of their restraint status. However, restrained eaters in the No Label Condition consumed more of the healthful than the unhealthful branded cookie, whereas those in the Low-Calorie Condition consumed more of the unhealthful than the healthful branded cookie. In contrast, unrestrained eaters ate more of the healthful branded cookie regardless of the caloric information provided. Thus, although restrained and unrestrained eaters' perceptions are similarly affected by branding and caloric information, brands and caloric information interact to affect restrained eaters' consumption. This study reveals that labeling foods as low calorie may create a halo effect which may lead to over-consumption of these foods in restrained eaters.
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Cavanagh, Kevin V.; Kruja, Blina; and Forestell, Catherine A., The effect of brand and caloric information on flavor perception and food consumption in restrained and unrestrained eaters (2014). Appetite, 82, 1-7.