Can 'Low Fat' Nutrition Labels Lead to Obesity?

Journal of Marketing Research 43.4 (2006): 605-617

14 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2014

Date Written: November 1, 2006


In this era of increasing obesity and increasing threats of legislation and regulation of food marketing practices, regulatory agencies have pointedly asked how “low-fat” nutrition claims may influence food consumption. The authors develop and test a framework that contends that low-fat nutrition labels increase food intake by (1) increasing perceptions of the appropriate serving size and (2) decreasing consumption guilt. Three studies show that low-fat labels lead all consumers — particularly those who are overweight — to overeat snack foods. Furthermore, salient objective serving-size information (e.g., “Contains 2 Servings”) reduces overeating among guilt-prone, normal weight consumers but not among overweight consumers. With consumer welfare and corporate profitability in mind, the authors suggest win-win packaging and labeling insights for public policy officials and food marketers.

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian and Chandon, Pierre, Can 'Low Fat' Nutrition Labels Lead to Obesity? (November 1, 2006). Journal of Marketing Research 43.4 (2006): 605-617, Available at SSRN:

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Retired - Cornell University ( email )

Pierre Chandon

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

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