As per the Wageningen University, light varieties of sweets, soft drinks or snacks only lead to over-consumption of the low-calorie alternatives, in the long-term.
Past research has already shown people eat more light crisps once they have switched to them and the new findings show this behaviour persists even a full year later.
On average, people buy 13 per cent more calories the year after their first “light” purchases, compared to the previous year.
Team leader Joost Pennings said that people feel guilty when they eat something that makes them fat, but if they switch to light, they seem to immediately eat more of the product. This then becomes a habit, where they not only eat the light version, but to a certain extent often also return to the regular variety.
Due to these findings, Pennings and his colleagues believe that the government should be careful in its promotion of light products.
He added, “Light is not bad but we must be aware of the psychological impact of the claim. If we want overweight people to actually consume fewer calories, we need to educate them better.”
The study will appear in the International Journal of Research Marketing.