Recent experimental research has shown that light, low-fat and other claims that signal low calorie content can increase consumption and hence can be counter-effective. In this article we use detailed data from the Dutch National Food Consumption survey to determine the extent to which this increase in consumption can also occur outside an experimental setting. We investigate consumption of 36 different products, including dairy products, fats, and non-alcoholic beverages. Looking at both the consumption amount in grams per eating occasion and the consumption frequency over a period of two days, we find almost no evidence that more is consumed of “light” variants than of regular variants. For only 5 of the 36 products we find a consistent and significant higher consumption in grams of the “light” variant, while for 8 products, consumption frequency of the “light” variant is significantly higher. Moreover, for almost all of these products, we observe that in terms of calories, still less is consumed of the “light” variant than of the regular variant. We conclude that in real-life non-experimental settings “light” claims do not lead to increased consumption of the “light” products.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Versluis, I, & Franses, Ph.H.B.F. (2013). Low-fat, light, and reduced in calories (No. ERS-2013-014-MKT). ERIM Report Series Research in Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from