With obesity rates reaching an all-time high than in the last 40 years, many people have assumed that food marketing is to blame. Although are people with obesity really the ones who are succumbing to food marketing?. The focus and importance of health has become even more pronounced during these covid-19 times.
InsightzClub conducted a study to understand the role, dimensions and the ever increasing role of health consciousness.
A study by UBC Sauder School states that people with obesity do respond more to food marketing, but when their weight drops significantly, so does their responsiveness to marketing.
To support this study, three groups of patients were employed – one with severe obesity before gastric bypass, people who did not undergo bariatric surgery and those who were not obese.
To see how they respond to food marketing, researchers evaluated something called framing effects – how branding, advertising, and labeling “frame” influence food evaluations and choices. In one study, participants were asked to estimate calorie content in well-known snacks and drinks which are supposedly “healthy” and others which are called “not healthy”.
Researchers found that everyone underestimated the calorie content in the healthy, but the effect was more pronounced In those with obesity.
To further this, researchers asked participants to choose a portion of French fries from a fast-food restaurant while giving them nutritional information helping them to make an informed decision. There were three options – 71g, 117g and 154g, same were labelled as mini, small and medium (a tactic to make larger portions seem reasonable).
After measuring how sensitive the participants were, they understood that people with obesity were likely to follow the labeling and not the actual information about quantity, hence choose the “medium” option even though that’s large.
Overall, the study found that people with obesity tended to be more responsive to food marketing, but when losing a significant amount of weight because of bariatric surgery, their responsiveness to food marketing dropped significantly.
People with obesity going through bariatric surgery become less responsiveness to marketing over time. After 12 months, their responsiveness to marketing reaches people with more medically-recommended weight.
It is not clear whether they become less responsive to marketing because of psychological changes following surgery, neurological shifts or changes to the gut microbiota. However, it can be concluded that their responsiveness to marketing did not remain high after weight loss.
These findings are very important for years because researchers assumed that marketing messages especially for foods that are high calorie and low nutrition are partly responsible for the obesity epidemic, but there wasn’t empirical evidence. Hence, these results provides insights for policy-makers in charge of regulating food marketing in order to curb obesity.
InsightzClub is a tech consumer insights firm with multiple consumer insights solutions using active and passive data.