July 2, 2013 by Tamara Piety
The New York Times has an article entitled “Why Healthy Eaters Fall for Fries.” One answer might be that they taste good. Not everyone thinks so but certainly Michael Moss’ book Salt, Sugar Fat suggests that they are engineered to taste good by a process that is anything but haphazard. But another reason is that adding “healthy” options to the menu actually increases the likelihood that a consumer will pick the unhealthy item. Researchers theorize that this is because the mere presence of the healthy choice makes people feel less guilty about choosing the unhealthy option through a sort of “halo” effect.
This generally confirms other articles I’ve read and Moss’ book. Sellers know this. Of course, they are also responding to public desires for healthier options. It is something of a Catch-22 and perhaps illustrates that it is futile to hope that you can make a silk purse (healthy, low calorie food) out of a sow’s ear (junk food).
When this is what we are up against, invoking personal responsibility rings a little hollow. It certainly seems like it is cause for pause to consider that fast food entities market extremely aggressively to children…. who don’t read The New York Times….