Friday, April 05, 2013

Organic food labels 'trick' us into thinking food is healthier and tastier

It is seen as healthier and tastier – and millions of shoppers willingly pay more to enjoy it.  But, say researchers, the benefits of organic food may simply exist in our heads.

They believe it is gaining from a  ‘health halo effect’, where  consumers assume foods labelled as organic automatically have positive features.  These include being better for us, tastier and having fewer calories.

For their study, scientists asked 115 male and female shoppers to take part in a taste test.

They were given two samples of biscuits, crisps and yoghurt. Each pair was labelled as either organic or non-organic but, in reality, they were identical organic foods.

The results showed that the shoppers’ perceptions were swayed by the labels.  Those tagged ‘organic’ were seen as being lower fat and containing up to a quarter fewer calories.  They were also rated as higher in fibre and more nutritious, according to a report in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

Crucially for retailers, the shoppers were willing to pay up to a quarter more for snacks they believed were organic.

But, said the researchers from Cornell University in New York State, the ‘non-organic’ biscuits were judged to be tastier.  This was possibly because people may instinctively think healthy biscuits will not taste as good.

The authors have previously warned that the effect could lead to over-eating as shoppers under-estimate calorie counts.


Bald men at greater heart disease risk

Testosterone at work, presumably

Men with a bald pate are at significantly greater risk of heart disease than their less follicly challenged peers, according to a new study which found that the problem is greater the younger hair loss begins.

Men with severe male-pattern baldness are a third more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those who retain a full head of hair, Japanese researchers found.

But this only applied to men whose hair loss occurred on top of the head, while those with a receding hairline around their temples were at no greater risk.

Men who lost their hair earlier in life were at especially high risk, and the likelihood of developing heart disease was greater in those with more extensive hair loss.

Although it remains unclear what causes the connection between baldness and the life-threatening condition, researchers said baldness could be a symptom of an underlying condition which causes heart disease such as insulin resistance, chronic inflammation or heightened sensitivity to testosterone.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was an analysis of six previous studies exploring a possible connection between baldness and heart disease, involving a total of 37,000 men.

Three papers which followed a group of men for at least 11 years found on average that those who lost most of their hair were 32 per cent more likely to develop heart disease, rising to 44 per cent in those who became bald before the age of 60.

But the other three studies, which compared the health of bald and balding men against those with a full head of hair, found that men with hair loss were 70 per cent more likely to have heart disease, increasing to 84 per cent in younger age groups.

Considering all the evidence, researchers found that extensive baldness on the crown increased the risk by 48 per cent, moderate baldness by 36 per cent and mild baldness by 18 per cent.

The researchers said their results showed that men with a balding crown should “probably be encouraged to improve their cardiovascular risk profile", especially if their baldness developed early.

But Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although these findings are interesting, men who’ve lost their hair should not be alarmed by this analysis.

“Much more research is needed to confirm any link between male pattern baldness and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. In the meantime, it’s more important to pay attention to your waist line than your hair line."


1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

(WXYZ) - Organic produce is supposed to be free from synthetic chemicals and governed with strict guidelines.