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New study shows the unexpected power of nutritional labels

Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist and researcher at Columbia Business School, has spent years studying physical responses to the “placebo effect.” She recently used her experience in a new study documenting the body’s physical response to the information on a nutritional label. 

The study was designed to uncover whether the content of a nutritional label could physically change what happens to you, and affect the body’s physiological processing. 

To conduct the experiment, Crum created a French vanilla milkshake, and labeled it in two very distinct ways. The first batch was labeled as a low calorie drink called SensiShake, claiming zero percent fat, zero sugar and only 140 calories. The other batch was labeled Indulgence, claiming 620 guilt-inducing calories. Both shakes actually held the same ingredients and measured 300 calories per serving. 

Nurses measured the levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which is referred to in the healthcare profession as the “hunger hormone,” before and after drinking the shake. When ghrelin levels are high in the stomach, the brain receives signals for hunger, and slows metabolism. After a big meal, when ghrelin levels are low, the metabolism speeds up to burn the excess calories and the brain receives messages to stop eating. 

According to the results, when drinking the shake labeled Indulgence, the body reacted as if you had consumed much more. “The ghrelin levels dropped about three times more when people were consuming the indulgent shake (or thought they were consuming the indulgent shake),” Crum says, compared to the people who drank the sensible shake (or thought that’s what they were drinking).

The results illustrate how our perception can physically affect our bodies, and the power of properly targeted labeling. DuraFast Label offers printing solutions for all your label printing needs. Our custom label printers allow you to display the information the customer needs where it is most effective, and allows for quick adjustments to experiment with new labeling strategies. 

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