When people know the calories and fat content in foods, they lean toward healthier fare, revealed the Cornell study of food labels in dining halls. Municipal and federal legislation are in the pipelines for large restaurants and dining facilities to put labels on their foods. But, before this study there was little evidence to show such labels are effective in helping people make healthier food choices.
Co-author David Levitsky said, "The study is one of the few definitive studies demonstrating, at least in a university dining hall, that putting calories and fat content on the label on various foods purchased in the dining hall produces a reduction in calories and fat content purchased."
AdvertisementThe results revealed a 7% reduction of mean total calories and total fat purchased per week. It was also observed that the percent of sales of low-fat and low-calories foods increased, while sales of high-calorie and high-fat foods decreased.
Lvitsky said, "The reason we found an effect is we had a tremendous amount of data. It's a small but significant effect. This study demonstrates that small nudges can actually help reduce caloric intake. In this obesogenic world, the consumer needs all the help they can get to resist the temptations that the food industry uses to have us increase consumption. Insisting that food labels be visible on the foods people purchase may be the kind of help people need to resist the epidemic of obesity."
The study was published in Appetite.