Abstract

Because packaging reaches consumers at the critical moments of purchase and consumption, it has become an important marketing tool for food manufacturers and retailers. In this paper, I first review how the marketing, health and nutrition claims made on packaging create “health halos” that make foods appear healthier than they are, thereby leading to higher consumption yet lower perceived calorie intake. I then show how packaging design (cues, shapes, and sizes) biases people's perception of quantity and increases their preference for supersized packages and portions that appear smaller than they are. Finally, I examine the extent to which mandatory nutrition labels, stricter regulation of package claims, public promotion of mindful eating, and mindless eating nudges could limit the biasing effects of packaging on food perceptions and preferences.

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