Need to lose some pounds before the holidays? Then start reading. Yes, yes, we know you’re already reading this blog (thank you)…but what you really need to start doing, according to a new study, is reading food labels while you shop.
You see, people, and women in particular, who read food labels while they grocery shop weigh, on average, 9 pounds less than people who don’t.
An international team of scientists led by Maria Loureiro, of the University of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain analyzed more than 25,000 observations on health, eating and shopping habits from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Among the data collected were responses about reading nutritional information in supermarkets.
“First we analyzed who read the nutritional label when purchasing foods, and then we moved on to the relationship with their weight,” said Loureiro.
The study found big differences between the people who read food labels and those who did not. Interestingly, smokers paid little attention to the nutritional information on foods.
“Their lifestyle involves less healthy habits and, as a consequence, it could be the case that they are not so worried about the nutritional content of the food they eat, according to our results,” the researchers suggested.
People who live in cities were the most careful about reading food labels. People with high school and college educations also paid more attention to nutritional labels. Fifty-eight percent of men took the time to read labels, compared with 74% of women. And white women who lived in cities read food labels most often.
” On average, women who read the nutritional information have a body-mass index of 1.48 points lower, whereas this difference is just 0.12 points in men,” Loureiro said. “We know that this information can be used as a mechanism to prevent obesity.”
The researchers suggest that campaigns and public policy should be designed to promote the use of nutritional labeling, not just on the foods we buy in stores but also on menus at restaurants and other public establishments.
As someone, who lives the vida low-carb, I for one would fully support this move. Would you?
Contra Loureiro, I don’t think we know anything of the sort. I suspect this is simply a proxy for health consciousness. Recall that the data showed mandatory nutritional labeling in restaurants had no statistical impact on food choices.
Also, we’re talking about a survey here. People lie like rugs.