Color helps people decide whether or not to eat something, and vision is the main sense one uses to guide us in food choices, according to a new study by the International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA), published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers discovered that a special “color code” helps people decide on calorie intake, with red apparently triggering their appetite. Green appears to halt it, because people associate the color more with fewer calories.
- The study also found a preference for red over green for processed or cooked foods — where color is generally not an indicator of calories. However, the article indicated that prior research shows people tend to favor cooked food, which they inherently believe is has more nutrition for the same quantity.
Food manufacturers have long been aware that color preferences can lead people to different foods, which is one of the reasons why artificial colors are added to so many of the foods people love.
Earlier this year, a study on the impact of color in marketing determined that up to 90 percent of shoppers decide whether to buy an item solely on color — and make that decision in less than 90 seconds.
Charles Spence, a professor with Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University, noted that more than 50 percent of a person’s cortical real estate is dedicated to processing vision, while just a percent or two is targeted to taste faculties. That shows that color not only flavors one’s expectations, but it actually changes how one tastes food.
Joanne Perez, a registered dietitian with more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and wellness, noted that eye-catching reds stimulate emotions and bring back good memories, which is why the color is often used on food packaging. Green, on the other hand, is not widely used on labels — unless those labels are championing natural ingredients.