Weight loss changes people’s responsiveness to food marketing

Weight loss changes people's responsiveness to food-related marketing

People with obesity tend to be more receptive to food marketing, but when their weight drops significantly, so does their responsiveness to marketing , a new study suggests.

Testing the framing effect

For the study, which has been published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology , the researchers followed three groups:

  1. severely obese patients prior to undergoing gastric bypass or other weight loss surgeries (collectively known as bariatric surgery);
  2. obese people who did not have bariatric surgery;
  3. people who were not obese.

To measure their responsiveness to food marketing, the researchers evaluated what is called the framing effect – that is, how branding, advertising, and labeling ‘frame’ and thus influence food choices and evaluations .

In one study, participants were asked to estimate the calorie content in well-known snacks and beverages, including some that marketers generally frame as healthy (i.e. apple juice, granola bars), and others that are not. they are framed as healthy (i.e. soda, candy bars).

The researchers found that they all underestimated the calorie content of products that were framed as healthy, but the effect was more pronounced in people with obesity .

It is not clear whether people with obesity respond less to marketing due to physiological changes after surgery (hormonal, neurological or changes in the gut microbiota) or due to people’s desire to change their lifestyles and habits. Another possible reason is that people’s tastes tend to change after bariatric surgery .