MONDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People who read food labels
have healthier diets than those who don't pay attention to such
information, a new study shows.
Researchers analyzed data from the 2005-06 U.S. National Health
and Nutrition Examination Survey, and found that 61.6 percent of
respondents said they read the nutrition facts panels, 51.6 percent
examine the list of ingredients, 47.2 percent read the serving size
and 43.8 percent review health claims at least sometimes when
deciding whether to buy a food product.
There were significant differences between label readers and
non-readers in their intake of total calories, total fat, saturated
fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber and sugars, the researchers
"If the food label is to have a greater public health impact, rates of use will likely need to be increased among U.S. adults," commented study author Nicholas J. Ollberding, a professor in the Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, at Columbia University.
Low rates of label use also suggest that the food label may need
to be modified, Ollberding said. Suggested changes to the current
label "include bolding calorie information, reporting the total
nutrient intake for foods likely to be consumed in a single
sitting, and using more intuitive labeling that requires less
cognitive processing such as a red, yellow and green 'traffic
light' signs on the front of the label," he said.
The food label alone is not enough to change behavior, but it
can be a valuable tool in combating obesity and diet-related
chronic disease, he concluded.
The study appears in the August issue of the
Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Another study in the same issue found that putting "Fuel Your
Life" tags on shelves of healthy food items in an on-campus
convenience store had a positive effect on college students' food
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