New research claims that taking multivitamins can have a profound impact on the way people think, and possibly make them more likely to engage in risky behavior.
For the study, researchers in Taiwan gave 82 test subjects sugar pills. Half were told about the sugar pills while the other half were told they were taking vitamins. They found people who thought they were taking vitamins experienced a strange change in behavior:
The findings come as no surprise to Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“You see this even in professional athletes,” Bonci said. “Sometimes they attribute to supplements superhuman properties that let them off the hook for healthy behaviors. They’ll say, ‘I’m taking this supplement so it doesn’t matter what I eat.’”
Bonci lays the blame on ads that show healthy fit people taking supplements. You don’t see this kind of advertising for all the foods that actually do lead to good health she said.
And those ads lead to unreasonable expectations, Bonci said.
“We this face challenge every day,” she added. “And it’s not just athletes. There are many patients who believe there is exercise in a bottle.”
People have just come to expect that pills can cure everything, said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Laboratory of Brain, Behavior and Pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“We live in a society that is very oriented towards taking medication,” Leuchter said. “People feel like they can take a pill and it will almost immunize them from any unhealthy lifestyle choices”
The study's results are published in Psychological Science.