Does a product’s packaging influence you? As it turns out, images shown on food products just might make more of an impact than you know. A recent series of studies discovered that people eat a larger portion of cake when a frosted cake is shown on the cake mix box. In one of the studies, the image of a cake covered in frosting encouraged participants to consume 135% more calories than the serving size. A subsequent study included a cake mix box with the phrase, “frosting not included on the nutritional labeling.” These participants chose a more appropriate and less caloric serving size.
Regardless of the type of food product, many consumers automatically assume that the picture on the box reflects the recommended serving. In fact, the food packaging likely influences consumers’ portion sizes more so than the printed serving size. Researchers collectively believe that when a generous portion is displayed on a product’s packaging, it causes consumers to overestimate on serving size. To avoid misleading consumers, the researchers urge manufacturers to include a phrase reminding their customers that any additional items shown are not included in the recommended serving size.