06/10/2011 02:04 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2011

Americans Unwilling To Pay More For Healthy Food, Misled By Health Food Names

Two recent studies have come out that illuminate Americans' somewhat inconsistent healthy eating habits: Americans don't want to pay more for healthy food options, but often dieters have trouble discerning what is actually healthy.

A study by the NPD group reveals that when dining out, Americans do not expect to pay more for healthier food. According to the study, nine percent of all restaurant visits are based on a customers' desire for lighter or healthier fare (down from 10 percent in 2007). The results did vary a bit by generation, with over half of consumers aged 25 to 49 years old expecting to pay the same price for healthier items and standard fare. Thirty percent of consumers aged 18 to 24 would be willing to pay more for healthy menu items. Still, based on the results, the NPD group recommends to restaurants that it is important for the pricing of healthier options to remain consistent with the rest of the menu.

The second study, appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, finds that dieters are more likely to be misled about supposed health food names than non-dieters. For example, explains HealthDay News, "dieters rated food items with names such as 'salad' as being healthier than identical products with names such as 'pasta,' while non-dieters made no such distinctions." Similarly, the dieters believed that "fruit chews" were healthier than "candy chews" and ate more of the candy when it was titled fruit chew. The study recommends that dieters should pay more attention to nutritional information rather than food names.