The journal Agricultural Economics recently published some interesting conclusions from an analysis of 25,000 responses in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Researchers found that people who read nutrition labels are thinner than those who don’t:
- People living in metro areas tend to read labels more often
- Women tend to to read labels more often (74%) than men (58%)
- Level of education correlates with label reading
Is anyone surprised?
What you need to know:
While the report above showed correlation, not causation, getting into the habit of knowing what’s in your food has no negative side effects (except for spending more time at the supermarket).
Food marketing has gotten to such a level of perfection that in a supermarket of 50,000 items, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that is marked “unhealthy.” That’s why the FDA mandates that all food items contain a nutrition facts label and an ingredient list.
Always read both the ingredient list and the nutrition label. One without the other only tell you half the story. For example, a product may boast a very low calorie count, but it turns out that the manufacturer removed some sugar and added an artificial sweetener you may not want your child to consume. A snack bar may boast very high fiber content, but ut turns out most of it is added as inulin. There are also many additives and preservatives you may want to stay away from, but you’d never know what they were unless you read the ingredient list.
If you only read the ingredient list of a product you may be missing key information as well. Take orange juice for example. It’s usually made with just oranges.
Not so quickly. Read the nutrition label to realize that it contains 6 teaspoons worth of sugar. Yes, it’s naturally occurring sugar, but you would need to eat 4 oranges to get the same amount of sugar. Meanwhile, you’ve lost all the benefits of the fiber in the original fruit.
What to do at the supermarket:
Make it a habit to read both nutrition labels and ingredient lists. If you need help with some of the ingredients, let us know, we’d be happy to help! And don’t forget, you can always use the Fooducate website or mobile apps to quickly learn what’s really in your food.