A new study has suggested that plain food packaging may increase the level of snack consumption among men.
The research included three studies led by professor Carolina O.C. Werle from France-based business school Grenoble Ecole de Management.
In the first study, 166 participants were randomly allocated a packet of chocolate peanut sweets in either original or plain packaging to examine how this influenced their perceptions about the brand.
Results showed that participants were less interested in consuming the product presented in the plain packaging.
However, when chocolate peanut sweets were wrapped in plain packaging, participants estimated that they contained on average 100 fewer calories than those in the original, branded packaging.
The second and third studies investigated the impact of plain packaging on actual food consumption.
In these studies, participants were randomly original and plain packaging and watched a video while tasting the product.
In both studies, male participants provided with the plain packaging ate significantly more sweets.
Snack-eating among female participants in study two remained unchanged by packaging.
However, the addition of a low-fat label in the third study increased snack intake among females.
Professor Carolina Werle said: "Our research found that while plain packaging leads to less positive attitudes towards brand, it also leads to increased snack intake among males whereas low fat labels increased snack intake in females.
"This study casts doubt on whether plain food packaging does represent a viable obesity prevention strategy.
"It is worth noticing, however, that we only studied one type of plain pack (white) and one type of snack (M&M’s). Further research is needed to investigate the boundary conditions of these effects."