Prepared Foods August 30, 2004 enewsletter

People believe "bad" ingredients reduce nutritional value.

"The addition of disreputable ingredients (e.g., fat) can reduce the perceived health value of foods and cause the foods to take on negative qualities (e.g., promoters of obesity).

“However, are foods that contain disreputable ingredients perceived to lack positive components (e.g., vitamins and minerals)? In the present study, college students were asked to rate the vitamin and mineral levels of a group of primary foods (e.g., apple) as well as their counterparts, i.e., a second group of similar foods (e.g., caramel apple) that contained disreputable ingredients," a scientist in the U.S. reports.

"The results strongly suggest that college students believe that fat, sugar and salt deplete foods of vitamins and minerals," said Michael E. Oakes at the University of Scranton. “Perhaps as much as anything, these results indicate that more care and caution should be used when disseminating nutritional information."

Oakes and colleagues published their study in Appetite (“Good foods gone bad: 'infamous' nutrients diminish perceived vitamin and mineral content of foods.” Appetite, 2004;42(3):273-278).

For additional information, contact Michael E. Oakes, Department of Psychology, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pa. 18510-4596. E-mail: