People who take vitamin pills may be more likely to gorge on fast food, a new study has found.
Researchers have warned that multivitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements can lull users into a false sense of security - and lead to them over-indulging in unhealthy foods and activities.
For the study, one group of volunteers was told to take a multivitamin pill and the second a dummy pill while their lifestyle choices were monitored.n reality, both groups had been given placebos.
The researchers found that those who believed they had taken a supplement felt immune to health hazards and were less likely to go for a walk to benefit their health.
They were also more likely to choose a buffet meal over a more healthy organic one.
"After taking dietary supplements in the morning, individuals should diligently monitor whether illusory invulnerability is activated by restored health credentials and subsequently licenses health-risk behaviours," the Daily Mail quoted Wen-Bin Chiou of National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, as saying.
A spokesman for the research team added: "To put it simply, people who take dietary supplements may have the misconception that they are invulnerable to health problems and may make poor decisions when it comes to their health, such as choosing fast food over a healthy and organic meal."
The study is detailed in the journal Psychological Science.