doi:

DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00513

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2017/49:4 PP.513-525

Salty food brings obesity? The effect of saltiness on calorie estimation


Abstract:
Consumer's calorie estimation plays an important role in food consumption choices. However, calorie estimation is often objective and biased based on many factors. One of the most important factors is saltiness. Hardly any studies exist to show the influence of saltiness on food consumption. While the association of saltiness and unhealthiness is obvious in daily life routines, it is very likely to have an effect on calorie estimation. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of saltiness on calorie estimation.
We conducted four studies to examine our hypothesis. We adopted a laboratorial food taste task in study 1. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups (saltiness: strong vs. weak). They were asked to estimate the calorie content of the peanuts after eating them. The stimuli in two groups were the same except for the salt content. In order to examine the robustness of the effect among different age-groups and people from different regions, we enlarged our sampling to include young adults and elders, northerners and southerners in study 2. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups (saltiness: strong vs. weak) then they were shown a description of the type of food. Additionally, the mediating role of perceived healthiness is tested in study 2. We manipulated the healthy perception of salt in study 3 to test the mechanism indirectly. In the manipulated group, the participants were shown a report implying that salt could benefit us, while in the control group, the report showed that a smile was healthy. In study 4, we examined further the moderating role of food category as well as the mediating role of perceived healthiness in the effect of saltiness on calorie estimation with a 2 (saltiness: strong vs. weak) × 2 (food category: healthy vs. unhealthy) between subject design. Participants were randomly divided into 4 groups and showed a description of food (e.g., chips mixed with salt). In all studies, participants needed to estimate the calorie content of the food described.
As predicted, we found that consumer's estimation in calorie would significantly increase when food was saltier. The effect is robust among different age groups as well as participants from Southern China and Northern China. Nevertheless, when salt was primed to be a healthy element to our body, the increase of calorie estimation in saltier food no longer existed. Moreover, food categories played a moderating role. Consumers were more likely to overestimate the number of calories in saltier healthy food than in unhealthy ones. Furthermore, the results showed that participants perceived healthiness mediate the effect of saltiness in calorie estimation. As perceived healthiness increased, consumers' estimation of calorie increased as well. The mediating effect existed only in healthy foods.
These results enrich literature regarding calorie estimation. First, this study explored the field of taste in which it is the most related factor in food consumption. Secondly, it added the evidence that calorie estimation is irrational and easily biased due to salt itself contains zero calories. Third, we examined the perceived healthiness as a mechanism to the effect. Moreover, this study has shown some insight for companies. By making food products less salty, sales may increase not only because it may seem healthier to consumers but it may also cause consumers to underestimate the amount calorie intake.

Key words:calorie,saltiness,perceived healthiness,association theory

ReleaseDate:2017-05-12 17:01:37



Berger, J., & Rand, L. (2008). Shifting signals to help health: Using identity signaling to reduce risky health behaviors. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(3), 509–518.

Bertino, M., Beauchamp, G. K., & Engelman, K. (1982). Long-term reduction in dietary sodium alters the taste of salt. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 36(6), 1134–1144.

Biswas, D., Szocs, C., Krishna, A., & Lehmann, D. R. (2014). Something to chew on: The effects of oral haptics on mastication, orosensory perception, and calorie estimation. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(2), 261–273.

Block, J. P., Condon, S. K., Kleinman, K., Mullen, J., Linakis, S., Rifas-Shiman, S., & Gillman, M. W. (2013). Consumers' estimation of calorie content at fast food restaurants: Cross sectional observational study. BMJ, 346, f2907.

Booth, D. A. (1987). Cognitive experimental psychology of appetite. In R. A. Boakes, D. A. Popplewell, & M. J. Burton (Eds.), Eating habits: Food, physiology and learned behavior (pp. 175–209). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Carels, R. A., Konrad, K., & Harper, J. (2007). Individual differences in food perceptions and calorie estimation: An examination of dieting status, weight, and gender. Appetite, 49(2), 450–458.

Chandon, P., & Wansink, B. (2007a). The biasing health halos of fast-food restaurant health claims: Lower calorie estimates and higher side-dish consumption intentions. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(3), 301–314.

Chandon, P., & Wansink, B. (2007b). Is obesity caused by calorie underestimation? A psychophysical model of meal size estimation. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(1), 84–99.

Chen, R., Zheng, Y. H., & Liu, W. J. (2013). Mediation analysis: Principles, procedures, bootstrap methods and applications. Journal of Marketing Science, 9(4), 120–135. [陈瑞, 郑毓煌, 刘文静. (2013). 中介效应分析: 原理、程序、Bootstrap方法及其应用. 营销科学学报, 9(4), 120–135.]

Chernev, A. (2011a). The dieter's paradox. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(2), 178–183.

Chernev, A. (2011b). Semantic anchoring in sequential evaluations of vices and virtues. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(5), 761–774.

Cornil, Y., Ordabayeva, N., Kaiser, U., Weber, B., & Chandon, P. (2014). The acuity of vice: Attitude ambivalence improves visual sensitivity to increasing portion sizes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(2), 177–187.

Deng R. D. (2015-03-19). Eating too much salt harms our bodies, how to reduce salt intake? China Youth. [邓如丹. (2015-03-19). 吃盐过多危害惊人, 如何才能减盐不减咸. 中国青年网.]

Elliott, P., Walker, L. L., Little, M. P., Blair-West, J. R., Shade, R. E., Lee, D. R.,.. Denton, D. A. (2007). Change in salt intake affects blood pressure of chimpanzees: Implications for human populations. Circulation, 116(14), 1563–1568.

Eskine, K. J., Kacinik, N. A., & Prinz, J. J. (2011). A bad taste in the mouth: Gustatory disgust influences moral judgment. Psychological Science, 22(3), 295–299.

Gao, L. L., Li, Y. J., & Wyer, R. S., Jr. (2016). Choosing between two evils: The determinants of preferences for two equally goal-inconsistent options. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(6), 1002–1012.

Ge, Q. (2015-07-25). Too much salt harms our bodies, be aware to invisible Salt among food. Xinhuanet. [葛琦. (2015-07-25). 食盐过量危害大, 警惕食物中“看不到的盐”. 新华网.]

Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York, NY: Guilford.

Holmstrup, M. E., Stearns-Bruening, K., & Rozelle, J. (2013). Quantifying accurate calorie estimation using the “think aloud” method. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(1), 77–81.

Huang, J., Guo, Y. L., Wang, C., & Yan, L. (2015). You touched it and I'm relieved! The effect of online review's tactile cues on consumer's purchase intention. Journal of Marketing Science, 11(1), 133–151. [黄静, 郭昱琅, 王诚, 颜垒. (2015). “你摸过, 我放心!” 在线评论中触觉线索对消费者购买意愿的影响研究. 营销科学学报, 11(1), 133–151.]

Jiang, Y., & Lei, J. (2014). The effect of food toppings on calorie estimation and consumption. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(1), 63–69.

Kim, G. H., & Lee, H. M. (2009). Frequent consumption of certain fast foods may be associated with an enhanced preference for salt taste. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 22(5), 475–480.

Krider, R. E., Raghubir, P., & Krishna, A. (2001). Pizzas: π or square? Psychophysical biases in area comparisons. Marketing Science, 20(4), 405–425.

Krishna, A., & Schwarz, N. (2014). Sensory marketing, embodiment, and grounded cognition: A review and introduction. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(2), 159–168.

Lansky, D., & Brownell, K. D. (1982). Estimates of food quantity and calories: Errors in self-report among obese patients. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 35(4), 727–732.

Liljenquist, K., Zhong, C. B., & Galinsky, A. D. (2010). The smell of virtue: Clean scents promote reciprocity and charity. Psychological Science, 21(3), 381–383.

Liu, W. M., & Lang, J. P. (2015). To choose red or blue? Investigating whether, when and why background colors will (will not) affect visually new product evaluations. Nankai Business Review, 18(5), 97–109. [柳武妹, 梁剑平. (2015). 选择红色还是蓝色——背景色彩影响视觉新产品评估的现象、中介及边界体制研究. 南开管理评论, 18(5), 97–109.]

Liu, W. M., Wang, J. Y., & Shao, J. P. (2016). An elaboration on the underlying mechanisms through which consumers' desire for product touch forms: A cognitive experiential perspective. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 48(4), 410–422. [柳武妹, 王静一, 邵建平. (2016). 消费者触摸渴望的形成机制解析——基于认知体验视角. 心理学报, 48(4), 410–422.]

Liu, W. M., Wang, H. Z., & Wang, J. Y. (2014). Sense of touch in the domain of consumer behavior: Review, application and prospects. Foreign Economics & Management, 36(4), 25–35. [柳武妹, 王海忠, 王静一. (2014). 消费行为领域的触觉研究: 回顾、应用与展望. 外国经济与管理, 36(4), 25–35.]

Livingstone, M. B. E., & Black, A. E. (2003). Markers of the validity of reported energy intake. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(3), 895S–920S.

Meier, B. P., Moeller, S. K., Riemer-Peltz, M., & Robinson, M. D. (2012). Sweet taste preferences and experiences predict prosocial inferences, personalities, and behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(1), 163–174.

Mozaffarian, D., Fahimi, S., Singh, G. M., Micha, R., Khatibzadeh, S., Engell, R. E., ... Powles, J. (2014). Global sodium consumption and death from cardiovascular causes. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(7), 624–634.

Oakes, M. E. (2005). Stereotypical thinking about foods and perceived capacity to promote weight gain. Appetite, 44(3), 317–324.

Roberto, C. A., Haynos, A. F., Schwartz, M. B., Brownell, K. D., & White, M. A. (2013). Calorie estimation accuracy and menu labeling perceptions among individuals with and without binge eating and/or purging disorders. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 18(3), 255–261.

Rozin, P., Ashmore, M., & Markwith, M. (1996). Lay American conceptions of nutrition: Dose insensitivity, categorical thinking, contagion, and the monotonic mind. Health Psychology, 15(6), 438–447.

Schnall, S., Haidt, J., Clore, G. L., & Jordan, A. H. (2008). Disgust as embodied moral judgment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(8), 1096–1109.

Shang, Y. C. (2011). The progress of traditional Chinese and Western medicine and clinical observation of the relationships between hypertension and excessive intake of salt (Unpublished master's thesis). Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. [尚懿纯. (2011). 高血压病与食盐摄入过量相关性的中西医进展及部分临床观察 (硕士学位论文). 北京中医药 大学.]

Swithers, S. E., & Davidson, T. L. (2008). A role for sweet taste: Calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 122(1), 161–173.

Tooze, J. A., Subar, A. F., Thompson, F. E., Troiano, R., Schatzkin, A., & Kipnis, V. (2004). Psychosocial predictors of energy underreporting in a large doubly labeled water study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(5), 795–804.

van Osselaer, S. M. J., & Alba, J. W. (2000). Consumer learning and brand equity. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(1), 1–16.

Vasdev, S., Gill, V., Longerich, L., Parai, S., & Gadag, V. (2003). Salt-induced hypertension in WKY rats: Prevention by α-lipoic acid supplementation. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 254(1–2), 319–326.

Wang, C., Zhu, R. J., & Handy, T. C. (2016). Experiencing haptic roughness promotes empathy. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(3), 350–362.

Wang, F. D. (2006-04-07). Is magnesium sulfate within salt harmful to health? Web of China Quality News. [王福德. (2006-04-07). 食盐中的硫酸镁危害人体健康吗?中国质量新闻网.]

Wang, G., Qing, M., Peng, T., Ji, S. C., & Li, Z. (2013). “Five stop” actions, stop chronic diseases. Journal of Agriculture Technology: Urban- Rural Integration, (11), 96–97. [王刚, 青木, 彭婷, 纪双城, 李珍. (2013). “五限”行动, 挡住慢病. 农家科技: 城乡统筹, (11), 96–97.]

Wansink, B., & Chandon, P. (2006). Can “low-fat” nutrition labels lead to obesity? Journal of Marketing Research, 43(4), 605–617.

Williams, L. E., & Bargh, J. A. (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322(5901), 606–607.

Xie, P. H., Du, Y., & Gao, F. (2016). Research on sensory branding from sense of hearing preferences. Journal of Brand Research, (1), 42–47. [谢佩洪, 杜宇, 高昉. (2016). 基于听觉偏好的感官品牌塑造研究. 品牌研究, (1), 42–47.]

Xu, J. W. (2014). Strategy to carry out the action of salt reduction in China (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing. [徐建伟. (2014). 我国开展减盐行动的策略研究 (博士学位论文). 中国疾病预防控制中心, 北京.]

Yoshioka, M., Imanaga, M., Ueyama, H., Yamane, M., Kubo, Y., Boivin, A., ... Kiyonaga, A. (2004). Maximum tolerable dose of red pepper decreases fat intake independently of spicy sensation in the mouth. British Journal of Nutrition, 91(6), 991–995.

Zhong, K., & Wang, H. Z. (2015). Brand elongation effect: The impact of logo shape on estimation to products' time-related attributes and brand evaluation. Nankai Business Review, 18(1), 64–76.

[钟科, 王海忠. (2015). 品牌拉伸效应: 标识形状对产品时间属性评估和品牌评价的影响. 南开管理评论, 18(1), 64–76.]

Zhong, K., Wang, H. Z., & Yang, C. (2014). Sensory marketing strategy in service failure: An empirical study of the positive effect of the haptic experience on consumer attitude. China Industrial Economics, (1), 114–126. [钟科, 王海忠, 杨晨. (2014). 感官营销战略在服务失败中的运用: 触觉体验缓解顾客抱怨的实证研究. 中国工业经济, (1), 114–126.]

Zhong, K., Wang, H. Z., & Yang, C. (2016). Sensory marketing: A literature review and prospects. Foreign Economics & Management, 38(5), 69–85. [钟科, 王海忠, 杨晨. (2016). 感官营销研究综述与展望. 外国经济与管理, 38(5), 69–85.]

Zhu, R., & Argo, J. J. (2013). Exploring the impact of various shaped seating arrangements on persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(2), 336–349.

Zillmann, D. (1978). Attribution and misattribution of excitatory reactions. In J. Harvey, W. Ickes, & R. Kidd (Eds.), New directions in attribution research (Vol. 2, pp. 335–368). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.