Choose Better With Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels led to a decline in calories consumed

(RxWiki News) Many fast food joints have introduced nutrition labels so consumers can make better informed decisions. Do the labels help, or are consumers simply ignoring them?

Fast food chains and restaurants have been blamed for contributing to the growing rates of obesity . Some of these eating businesses have taken the criticism to heart and started providing nutrition labels. It was thought the labels would encourage healthier choices.

"Check out restaurant nutrition labels to make the best choice."

Tamara Dumanovsky, Ph.D., independent consultant at New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and team wanted to find out how effective nutrition labels at fast food restaurants were.

The researchers surveyed nearly 16,000 people during lunch time at 168 locations of the top 11 fast food joints in New York. They first administered the surveys a year before nutrition information was introduced and then again nine months after full implementation.

The researchers used customer receipts to determine the amount of calories participants consumed before and after the nutrition information was introduced. Dr. Dumanovsky and colleagues found that many of the major chains showed a reduction in total calories consumed. The results also indicated that one out of every sixth customer used the calorie count information, which led to choosing lower calorie foods.

Although there was not a decline in calories for all samples, this study does show that most consumers are choosing foods with fewer calories when nutrition information is provided.

So read the labels, and choose wisely!

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

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Review Date: 
July 28, 2011