Supplements encourage unhealthy behaviour

Have you ever had that feeling, after an energetic gym session, or perhaps a long walk, that you've earned the right to a mountainous slice of cake, or to lounge lazily in front of the telly? Psychologists call these licensing effects and a new study has documented a similar phenomenon following the simple act of taking a vitamin pill. The researchers say the finding could help explain why the explosive rise in the consumption of dietary supplements (approximately half the US population take them, according to recent data) has not led to a commensurate improvement in public health.

Wen-Bin Chiou and his colleagues gave an inert pill to 82 participants recruited via posters in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung. Half the participants were told it was a placebo; the other half were told it was a vitamin pill...

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