Reading Food Labels Helps to Prevent Obesity
- Sunday, 30 September 2012
We believe in reading food labels at Naturally Savvy - this is why we wrote Unjunk Your Junk Food. The results of a recently published study links reading nutrition labels with preventing obesity. The international team of researchers, headed by the University of Santiago de Compostela, looked at data taken from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers found that reading nutrition labels lowers the average body mass index for women by 1.49 points. This translates into 8.6 pounds less for an American woman who is 162 pounds and 5.3 feet tall. For men the results are far less.
The abstract for the study states that nutrition labels "play a role in reducing obesity among users of nutrition labels, notably among women." The abstract, and the study itself, makes clear that nutrition labels by themselves will not solve the obesity problem in the U.S. but are a tool to reduce obesity. As the abstract declares, "These findings imply that health education campaigns can employ nutritional labels as one of the instruments for reducing obesity."
"Obesity is one of the most serious health problems in modern day USA," says María Loureiro lead author of the study. Loureiro points out that from 2009 to 2010 over a third (37 percent) of adults in the U.S. were obese, and 17 percent of children and adolescents.
The study can be used "as a mechanism to prevent obesity," Loureiro says. "We have seen that those who read food labels are those who live in urban areas, those with high school and high education. As we would hope therefore, campaigns and public policy can be designed to promote the use of nutritional labeling on menus at restaurants and other public establishments for the benefit of those who usually eat out."
In California, chain restaurants are required to provide calorie information for each menu item. Signed into law in 2008 by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the law went into effect in the beginning of 2010. Given that California is the most populous state, perhaps other states will follow suit.
Photo Credit: Flickr user, cote