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Women Who Read Food Labels Weigh About 9 lbs Less, on Average

posted 01:19 AM EST, Fri September 14, 2012
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Need to lose a few pounds? Consider this – women who regularly read the nutritional information on food labels weigh about 9 pounds less, on average, than women who don’t.

Women who read nutritional information on food labels are significantly less obese than women who don’t.

That’s what an international team of researchers discovered after analyzing data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey of more than 25 000 Americans.

Study Findings

  • On average, women who read food labels have a body mass index (BMI) score that is 1.49 points lower than women who never read this information (1.49 BMI points equals about 9 pounds for an average American woman.)
  • There was only a very minimal difference in BMI scores between men who read and did not read nutritional information
  • Urban women and those with a high school or higher education were most likely to pay attention to nutritional information
  • Smokers are much less likely than non smokers to read nutritional labels

Discussion – More Nutritional Information in Restaurants to Increase Public Health

Lead study author María Loureiro commented on the significance of the results, saying, "We know that this information can be used as a mechanism to prevent obesity. 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."

For the full study results - "The effects of nutritional labels on obesity". Agricultural Economics 43: 333, 2012.

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Story Highlights
  • Nutritional Labels: Women who often attend to nutrition information on food labels are significantly less overweight than women who do not
  • No Effect Seen Among Men: The effect was greatest among more educated urban women
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