Marianne Rizk And Teresa Treat Study Women's Perceptions Of Food
For most women, deciding if a food is healthy is much more about fat than sugar.
In fact, University of Iowa researchers found that even when women know a food is high in sugar, they don’t rely much on that information to judge its relative healthiness. Overall, women in two studies relied more on their perception of a food's fat and fiber content than on its sugar and protein stats when deciding if a food was good for them.
That could spell trouble in the long term, researchers say, given the weight- and health-related problems associated with excessive sugar intake—namely, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
“‘Fat is bad, fat is bad, fat is bad’ is pervasive in our culture,” says Marianne Rizk, a graduate student in the psychological and brain sciences department at the UI and the first author of two studies that examine women’s perceptions of food healthiness and a third that looks at women's sensitivity to the portion size of unhealthy foods.
“I wasn’t surprised that people would rely on the fat content in terms of the healthiness of a food—the more fat, the more unhealthy it is,” she says. “That seems to make sense. But that same reliance was not there for sugar.”
Teresa Treat, an associate professor in the psychological and brain sciences department at the UI and co-author of the studies, says the results could be a response to an aggressive national nutritional campaign espousing the dangers of too much fat in one's diet.