Today in medicine: Organic labels don’t always impress

Study participants deemed the food with the organic label healthier, but alsoexpressed low expectations on whether it would taste good.

Organic labels don't always impress

Study subjects: 215 students in part one of the study and 156 students in part two

Location of study: U.S.

Results: Researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan did a two-part study on the "halo effect" of organic foods -- the idea that an organic food label makes a consumer think the food is healthier than a food with a conventional label. They found that many participants deemed the food with the organic label healthier, but also expressed low expectations on whether it would taste good. The low taste expectations were especially prevalent among participants who didn't have much concern about the environment. The second part of the study looked at why people who did care about the environment might view organic labels negatively.

Significance: "The halo effect hinges on the values of the perceiver," says Cornell researcher Jonathon Schuldt. "It's not the case that you can label a food organic and expect that everyone will perceive it more positively. Under certain circumstances, ethical labels could have an unintended backfire effect."


Childless couples die earlier

Study subjects: 21,276 childless couples registered for IVF

Location of study: Denmark

Results: A study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that childless couples successfully treated for infertility -- meaning they eventually had children -- had longer lifespans than couples who remained without children. The rate of mental health problems in couples who adopted children was also half the rate of such problems in couples without any kids.

Significance: Interestingly, the rates of mental illness were similar for couples who had children of their own and those who did not have any children.

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