Is that company advertising their charity work? Beware

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A food company’s generous charity work does not necessarily mean they’ll be charitable with you — or your health.

It seems to make sense, doesn’t it: A company that cares about the hungry or poor should care about how healthy their products are for customers. And most people assume they do, according to a new study.

In a paper for the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, a group of researchers was able to show that knowledge of a company’s good deeds created a “health halo” for many consumers, leading to assumptions about how healthy the product is.

As part of the study, participants were asked to make some assumptions about the nutritional value of a granola bar. One group was told the company who makes the bar has won many awards for its public service.

The group told about the company’s public service assumed the granola bar was extremely healthy, which led to an underestimation of the bar’s calorie content.

So if a company claims in its advertising that it makes significant donations to a cause, be wary and double-check the nutritional value of its products.

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