Do socially responsible firms sell unhealthy food

Contrary to popular perception, companies that engage in socially responsible activities may not always produce healthy food products, says a study.

IANS| Last Updated: Nov 12, 2014, 17:34 PM IST

New York: Contrary to popular perception, companies that engage in socially responsible activities may not always produce healthy food products, says a study.

"Research demonstrates that consumers frequently engage in inference making when evaluating food products. These inferences can be highly inaccurate, leading to unintended, unhealthy consumer choices," said one of the study authors John Peloza from the University of Kentucky in the US.

The authors asked study participants to make assumptions about the healthiness of a granola bar product that will hit the stores in the future.

The people who were told that the granola bar company had won many awards for its public service predicted that the granola bar would therefore be extremely healthy.

The authors found that this "health halo" encouraged over-consumption and underestimation of calories consumed.

"If consumers seeking a healthy diet inaccurately estimate nutritional content of products marketed by firms with strong reputations for corporate social responsibility, it can lead to serious health consequences for both individuals and society," the researchers said.

The study appeared in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.