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The influence of health symbols on consumption behaviour

Buffet 2People want to eat healthily and health claims on food products can help them identify healthy foods. However, it is possible that people will justify eating more food because they perceive it as healthy. This so-called ‘licensing effect’ can lead people to eat more calories than is appropriate for them and has been observed in several studies. There are concerns that using health claims and symbols to identify healthy food products could lead to this ‘licensing effect’, resulting in people consuming more calories than they need. Thus, leading to overweight and the opposite effect than intended.

In two CLYMBOL studies, no evidence was found that a health symbol on food products leads to people eating more food, hence there was no licensing effect noticeable. Results indicate the health logo actually may lead to people eating less from unhealthy food.

BuffetTwo buffet studies, where a buffet is simulated, were carried out in the Netherlands (online) and in Spain (real-life). It was tested whether the presence or absence of the Choices logo on healthy food products presented in these buffets would influence people’s consumption. In the Netherlands, participants were asked in an online buffet study how much they would consume of a food product. The effect of the logo was then tested in a real-life buffet setting in Spain.


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