Do you read food labels when you shop? Are you paying attention to how many additives, preservatives, calories, sugars and fat are in the food you eat?
Did you know…that women read more food labels than men? While smokers read fewer labels than any other group studied.
Do Food Labels Really Matter?
A new study published in the Agricultural Economics Journal showed the link between obesity and food labels: participants who read food labels information weigh an average of nine pounds less than participants who do not!
Dr. Steven Yen, study author and professor at the University of Tennessee said, “Reading food labels is important because it allows shoppers to improve diet quality by making more informed decisions.”
The joint project between the University of Tennessee, the University of Arkansas, the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural Finance Research examined the correlation between weight loss and reading food labels.
Using data compiled from more than 25,000 people who participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “National Health Interview Study,” researchers analyzed shopping habits, as well as overall health and eating routines. The results determined that reading food labels plays a role in successful weight management.
What Are You Really Reading On That Food Label?
The study evaluated what consumers are really seeing when they “read” the labels on foods.
Participants filled out a survey first, then were monitored with a computer eye-movement tracking program while reading food labels. Participants were not told the study was regarding the nutrition of the food item but they were aware their eye movements would be tracked.
What researchers surprisingly discovered was that very few people truly read the labels, even though they said they did…or perhaps thought they did…in their initial survey answers.
Survey answers showed that 20-30% of participants read labels corresponding to the following top five categories: serving size, calorie content, total fat, trans fat and sugar. But the reality was far less: only 9% looked at the calorie content while a mere 1% considered fats, sugar and serving size.
In the written conclusion, authors Robert W. Jeffrey, PhD and Dan J. Graham, PhD, stated, “Consumers are more likely to view centrally located labels and nutrients nearer the label’s top. Knowing the amounts of key nutrients that foods contain can influence consumers to make healthier purchases, prominently positioning key nutrients, and labels themselves, could substantially impact public health.”
Changing where the label content is placed and how it is laid out may be the first step…but actually taking the time to read food labels and ingredients will have a positive impact on your overall health and weight control.
Obesity is considered the root cause for many disease epidemics in the United States, such as heart disease, diabetes, neuro-degenerative disease and cancer.
Scientists also found that if you exercise but don’t read food labels, your successful weight loss could be less than those people who do not exercise but carefully read food labels!
Exercising daily and carefully reading food labels doubled the success rate of dieters in their long-term weight loss goals.
Reading labels is especially important if you are over the age of 45 since that’s the age when most start to slow down in physical exercise. As you age it becomes more difficult for to lose weight if you don’t stay active.