University of MichiganOrganic food is known to contain 50% more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than produce that has been intensively farmed. Organic food is slightly expensive, and is said to be better than non organic food. Now experts from the University of Michigan share that many consumers falsely believe that organic foodstuffs have lesser calories. Due to this they consume it more than non-organic foods even if nutrition labels of both list the same amount of calories.

Scientists included more than 100 participants enlisted for the study. Oreo cookies made with organic flour and sugar clearly stated 160 calories on the nutrition labels. They observed that 38 percent of the participants presumed that organic cookie has lesser calories compared to other brands, however only 12 percent did so without the organic claim.

“As Americans’ waistlines have grown, and so has their appetite for organic food. Labeling food as ‘organic’ entails a claim about its production, but is silent on its calorie content. Nevertheless, people struggling to cut calories may turn to organics and possibly consume more calories than they otherwise would,” elucidatesNorbert Schwarz, professor of marketing at the U-M Ross School of Business and a professor of psychology and research professor at U-M’s Institute for Social Research.

He further shares, “Presumably, participants inferred that if organic cookies contain 160 calories, then the calorie content of conventional cookies whatever the precise amount is likely to be higher. In addition, participants considered it appropriate to consume Oreo cookies more frequently when they were organic than when they were not.”

Experts also observed if the influence of organic claims go beyond judgments about the food itself to judgments regarding the need for physical exercise. Experts asked over 200 participants if a female college student putting an effort to lose weight could abstain from her daily post dinner three mile run if she consumed an organic dessert than a non-organic dessert or skipped the dessert.

Schuldt, a doctoral student in psychology at U-M reveals, “Despite the student’s goal of losing weight through regular exercise, participants were more lenient toward her forgoing planned exercise when she had chosen organic over conventional dessert. Even more surprising was the fact that leniency toward forgoing exercise was slightly greater when the student chose organic dessert than when she chose no dessert at all.”

He further quotes, “As millions of Americans attempt to lose weight, eating organic foods even desserts may be viewed as a substitute for actual weight-loss-promoting behaviors. Our findings suggest that organic claims may not only foster lower calorie estimates and higher consumption intentions, but they may also convey that one has already made progress toward one’s weight-loss goal, thus undermining subsequent action.”

Scientists observed that the participants who consumed an organic dessert seemed to be unaffected by taking a day off from running as compared to those who ate non-organic ice-cream or who did not eat the dessert at all. In conclusion this study highlights that popularity of organic food is not without its downside.

These findings were published in an article this month for the journal Judgment and Decision Making.