Fitness-branded foods can actually make people eat more. Attractive packaging can induce the idea that these foods are better. People tend to eat more of them and reduce the actual focus on physical exercises. Those looking to lose weight can be doing more harm by actually eating extra food, which takes them in the opposite direction of controlled caloric intake.
Fitness foods and what researchers say about branding
Those looking to lose weight are often targeted by fitness branding. Protein bars and weight loss supplements are just a few of the products consumed by those looking to lose weight. Made with attractive branding, they can sometimes be detrimental as people associate them with healthy foods and simply eat them in larger quantities.
Research shows that this is not the sole problem of branding, as consumers tend to overlook physical activity. These foods can often be mistaken as a substitute for actual workouts.
The methods of the research included observing a group of subjects told to act normally, as in everyday life, when it comes to snacking. In a controlled environment, the group was given a healthy snack which also had images of running shoes to imply the idea of health and fitness. After consuming one such product, they had the option to go train on a stationary bike or consume the snack. Unless they were strictly prohibited by their diets, the subjects of the study chose to consume another snack.
Made with the purpose to investigate the effects of fitness branding, the study concluded that these healthy snacks can be a problem for those trying to keep their weight under control and that attractive branding had a major impact on this problem.
The researchers also made a few recommendations. While the products were actually beneficial, they suggested that manufacturers would need to use other ways to promote a healthier way to lose weight, instead of implying it through pictures and branding. Gym vouchers or exercise tips were recommended as an alternative. These alternatives would be a more realistic solution which would not diminish the importance of physical training for those trying to manage body weight.
Simply put, fitness branding can discourage physical activity, despite the fact that it promotes consuming more calories. This is counter-productive for those trying to lose weight. The research made by the American Marketing Association raises awareness of the issue of branding in the health and fitness space. Many products use different imagery to suggest the idea of exercising, without directly recommending physical activity.
Researchers recommend an increased attention on marketing techniques in the fitness space. Of course, a healthy snack can be a better alternative when a quick caloric intake is needed. But it is often the misleading branding which makes people eat multiple snacks. However, those which have been on strict diets where they knew which foods were allowed and which foods were not recommended for consumption, made it clear they did not want to consume another healthy snack.