This is going to be a very insightful, food-related post. But also keep in mind that I’m 5’9” and weigh 170 pounds. Those two pieces of information may seem unrelated, until you find out a new study suggests that people are more likely to believe healthy eating advice when they see that the author is thin.
The research, entitled “Prejudice and the Plate: Effects of Weight Bias in Nutrition Judgments,” provided 230 participants with identical photos of ten meals. Each meal was also accompanied by a photo of the supposed author of the study, but with one big difference: Half of the subjects saw a woman before dramatic weight loss, and the other half saw the same woman after she became far more svelte. According to the study, when looking at meals that included a picture of the woman while she was overweight, “our participants perceived those meals to be less healthy.”
In a second experiment, researchers found that these biases continued even after additional nutritional data was added alongside the photos. “People appear to assume that if a heavier person is recommending food, it is probably richer and less healthy,” said lead author Jonathon Schuldt, an assistant professor of communication at Cornell University. “Even when we provided nutrient information that is much more relevant to the food’s health quality, people are still strongly influenced by the body weight of the recommender,” he continued.
The study serves as a reminder that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Unless there’s a photo of the author on the back of it; then you probably will subconsciously judge the book by its cover whether you intend to or not.