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Low-calorie menus make people unhealthy

A new study suggests that restaurants that now provide “low-calorie” labels on their menus can inadvertently cause people to eliminate healthy food right off the bat.

“Because most restaurant menus are quite complex—offering numerous dishes composed of multiple ingredients—diners try to simplify their decision. People have come to expect low-calorie food to taste bad or not fill them up,” authors Jeffrey R Parker (Georgia State University) and Donald R Lehmann (Columbia University) wrote.
“We propose that by calorie organising a menu, restaurants make it easier for people to use the general ‘low-calorie’ label to dismiss all low-calorie options early in the decision process,” they wrote.


In four online studies, the authors asked participants to order food from menus similar to what they might encounter at well-known chain restaurants. Some participants were shown traditional menus that listed available dishes in food-type categories. Another set of participants was given the same menus, but with calorie information provided by each dish. A third group was given the calorie-labeled menus with the low-calorie dishes grouped together and given a low-calorie section label.


Study results showed that the participants who were given the traditional menus without any calorie information and the menus with the low-calorie food grouped together ordered food with similar amounts of calories. Interestingly, the participants who ordered from the calorie-labeled menus ordered meals with fewer calories overall.

Pregnant women with high BP risk adverse outcomes


Researchers have said that pregnant women with chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) are likely to suffer from adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm delivery, low birth weight and neonatal death. Chronic hypertension complicates between 1-5 per cent of pregnancies, and the problem may be increasing because of changes in the antenatal population.


Researchers from King’s College London carried out a study to assess the strength of evidence linking chronic hypertension with poor pregnancy outcomes. They combined data from studies from 55 studies done in 25 countries.


The researchers looked at the following outcomes: preterm delivery (delivery before 37 weeks’ gestation); low birth weight (below 2500g); perinatal death (fetal death after 20 weeks’ gestation including stillbirth and neonatal death up to one month) and admission to neonatal intensive care or special care baby units.


The relative risk of pre-eclampsia (a condition in pregnancy characterised by high blood pressure) in women with chronic hypertension was on average nearly eight times higher than pre-eclampsia in non-hypertensive women. All adverse neonatal outcomes were at least twice as likely to occur, compared with the general population. The researchers conclude that “chronic hypertension is associated with a high incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with a general population”.

Go for food with rough texture for a healthy you!

Health-conscious people who wish to keep a tab on their calorie intake seem to prefer food that are either hard or have rough texture as they perceive such food to have low-calorie content, research shows, agencies report from New York.


“We studied the link between how a food feels in our mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming,” said the team of researchers from University of South Florida, University of Michigan and Columbia University in the US.

In five studies, the researchers asked participants to sample foods that were hard, soft, rough, or smooth and then measured calorie estimations for the food.


When the participants were not made to focus on the calorie content, they consumed a higher volume of brownies when they were soft (vs hard). In contrast, when made to focus on the calorie content, the participants consumed a higher volume of brownies when they were hard (vs soft).


Brands interested in promoting the health benefits of their products can emphasise texture, as well as drawing attention to low-calorie foods, said the researchers.
“Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices,” the authors said.

The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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