Reading labels closely and modest exercise could together help women lose weight, especially those entering their middle years, according to research published in Journal of Consumer Affairs.
By simply adding an exercise routine to their lifestyle regular food label readers can increase their chances of losing weight. Women between the ages of 37-50 years are more likely to read food labels than men, and are therefore more likely to lose weight.
Previous research has focused on food marketing and behaviour but has not followed related weight loss over time in this middle-aged demographic group. The data for this study was taken from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth compiled from 2002-2006. The survey began in 1979 with over 12,000 male and female participants born in the years 1957-1964.
Over fifty percent of participants reported that they were trying to lose or control weight. Of these participants, almost seventy percent were obese or overweight. Almost fifty percent were actively reading food labels on their first time purchase and slightly more than twenty-five percent were actively participating in vigorous exercise. Overall, older individuals are less likely to lose weight by reading food labels, and general participation in vigorous exercise drops off after age forty-five.
Additionally, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), enacted in 1994, requires all food manufactures to present essential nutrient and ingredient information on food packages. According to the recently-passed health care reform bill there will be easier access to nutritional information at restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines. Combined with these new findings, it is likely that this measure will be useful to those who want to lose weight and read food labels to make well-informed decision regarding their diets in and outside their homes.
Weight loss programs and plans would do well in augmenting their client's weight loss goals with the recommended use of food labels, in order to maintain a healthy weight. This is particularly important as people enter middle age and are at a risk for heart disease, obesity-related diabetes, cancer and dementia.
This study is published in the Fall 2010 issue of the Journal of Consumer Affairs.