The key to taking away your chocolate cravings might be to put a photo of open-heart surgery on the wrapper.
Tobacco products are required to have warnings on the box discussing how addictive they are, along with, in some cases, images of lung cancer. Experts believe that putting something similar on popular candy wrappers can turn consumers away from eating them, according to a new UK study published in the journal Appetite.
Researchers from Cambridge University found that when placing graphic messages regarding the risks of heart disease, obesity and cancer on candy bars that seven in 10 people were more likely to choose a piece of fruit instead.
When using the standard packaging, only 40% of the participants chose fruit.
“The relationship between the product and its health effects may be the key to targeting unhealthy food consumption,” researchers claimed, according to the Daily Mail.
They found that even random gruesome images would drive people away from making the unhealthy choice, even if they weren’t health-related, such as an image of a dead dog.
This was said to work because of “eliciting negative emotional arousal,” scientists suggested.
Those who were shown the images were then given a second test where the group had the choice again to pick between chocolate and fruit, only this time, the chocolates had no wrapper on them at all.
The researchers said that being shown the labels and gruesome images had a lingering effect on the participants and that they were more likely to associate the candy with the image even when it was no longer there.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults in the US struggle with obesity and fewer than one in 10 adults eats the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
This study is said to follow in the footsteps of additional warning labels including ones for both soda and alcohol.