Body & Sports

So-called 'healthy' snacks could do more harm than good: experts

Updated: 2015-06-25
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Foods that market themselves as having health or fitness benefits - such as protein bars (pictured) - may actually do more harm than good, as we are more likely to overindulge on them
 
They are marketed as a healthy alternative to chocolate and crisps and a guilt-free way to stave off hunger pangs.
 
But so-called 'fitness foods' may actually do more harm than good, a study has warned.
 
Many products on the market are high in protein, or ingredients such as oats, and claim to be free of damaging sugars.

But experts say they simply lure weight-conscious consumers into a false sense of security.
 
Essentially, the health claims, or 'fitness branding', encourage us to eat more of the product - and exercise less - therefore jeapordising any weight loss plan - and even triggering weight gain.
 
Unless a food was forbidden by a person's diet, researchers found giving the product some kind of health or fitness branding meant more of it was eaten.
 
'Branding the product as "fit" increased consumption for those trying to watch their weight,' reported the study authors, writing in the Journal of Marketing Research.
 
They continued: 'To make matters worse, these eaters also reduced their physical activity, apparently seeing the '"fit" food as a substitute for exercise.
 
For the study, the researchers, from Pennsylvania State University and Technische Universität in Munich, investigated the effects of fitness-branded food in 'restrained eaters'.
 
These are defined as people who are chronically concerned about their body weight - and in turn, their eating habits and levels of physical activity were monitored.
 
Participants were given trail-mix style snacks marked either 'Fitness' or 'Trail Mix'.
 
To make the 'Fitness' snack appear even healthier, a picture of running shoes was added to the packaging.
 
Participants were told to pretend they were at home helping themselves to an afternoon snack, and were given eight minutes to taste and rate the product.
 
Another phase of the study gave them the option to exercise as vigorously as they liked on a stationary bicycle after eating the snack.
 
For those who were specifically trying to watch their weight, the effect of labeling was significant.
 
Overall, it caused them to eat far more of the snack marked 'Fitness'.
 
Futhermore, snackers eating the 'Fitness' brand also burned fewer calories during the exercise phase - presumably because they felt they didn't need to work as hard.
 
They key, say the researchers, is to get brands to remind consumers exercise is still necessary - or place more emphasis on monitoring fitness cues in marketing'.
 
For example, a brand 'could offer gym vouchers or exercise tips instead of just implying fitness via a label or image', the say.
 
The study comes after leading science expert Dr Michael Moseley warned last year that going to to the gym can actually cause weight gain.
 
The key problem is that we reward ourselves with 'treats' after exercise - or have the 'I've been to the gym, so I can eat what I want mentality', he said.
 
'Exercise is a good way to keep weight off - but it's not a good way to lose it.
 
'Going to the gym will burn calories - but way less than we think.
 
'1lb of fat is 3,500 calories - and fat is more energy-dense than dynamite' - so to burn 1lb of fat you'd need to run about 38 miles.'
 
He cited the example of a muffin and latte - which many of us underestimate the calorie content of.
 
'If you run one mile, you burn roughly 100 calories,' he said.
 
'A muffin contains around 500 calories - so you would have to run for five miles or walk for 10 miles to burn it off.'
 
And when it comes to a latte - which has around 150 calories - it would be 1.5 miles of running or a three-mile (hour long) walk.
 
'That is why people never lose weight going to the gym in the long-run.'
 
                                                     
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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 1 )
Voodoo commented on 25 Jun 2015
No serious athlete or person trying to lose weight should ever eat this rubbish..