Strange But True! Unhealthy Food, If Looking Good, May Seem Healthy To You: Study Claims

Pretty food may look healthy to you.


  • A new study analysed aesthetics principles applied on food.
  • The results claimed that pretty foods seem healthier to people.
  • It also revealed that people may perceive processed food as natural.

Looks matter! Even when it comes to food. There’s a reason why marketing agencies aim to make foods look so good that you just can’t resist them. Those TV advertisements showing blob of gooey cheese melting over a scrumptious pizza, or that huge Billboard with equally huge burger loaded with all things yummy, can make us forget all about our diet. And if the findings of a recent study are to be believed, many people may actually find all those good-looking foods healthy and safe to eat.

Does this happen with you too? Well, you are not alone. The study conducted by University of Southern California claims that when people look at pretty food, they perceive it to be healthier. Their mind works in such a way that they see more nutrients and less fat, even in junk foods. Also, they start considering even the most artificial foods as pure, natural and less processed when compared to the same meals but less good-looking. This might seem bizarre but holds true for many people.

The results of the study titled “Pretty Healthy Food: How and When Aesthetics Enhance Perceived Healthiness” were published in ‘Journal of Marketing’.

The research analysed how classical aesthetic principles, such as order, symmetry, and balance, influence healthiness judgments. In a pilot, six main studies and four supplemental studies across unhealthy and healthy, processed and unprocessed, and photographed and real foods alike, people perceived prettier versions of the same food as healthier.

“Given that pretty food styling can harm consumers by misleading healthiness judgments for unhealthy foods, managers and policy makers should consider modification disclaimers as a tool to mitigate the “pretty = healthy” bias,” wrote author Linda Hagen.



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