Shoppers -- particularly women -- who take the time to read food labels are thinner than those who don't.
These findings are from a recently released study authored by Steven T. Yen, a University of Tennessee professor in the Institute of Agriculture's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the University of Arkansas and the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural Finance Research.
Women who read food labels weighed nearly 9 pounds less than women who didn't read labels, according to the study. It also found that women read labels more than men, and the smoking population paid even less attention to label information.
"Reading food labels is important because it allows shoppers to improve diet quality by making more informed decisions in food purchases," Yen said.
The researchers used data from the annual "National Health Interview Survey" that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey collected more than 25,000 observations on health, eating and shopping habits.
The study, which was published in the "Agricultural Economics" journal, examined the relationship between nutritional label use and obesity. The results showed that reading labels played a role in reducing obesity, especially among women.
"These findings imply that health education campaigns can employ nutritional labels as one of the instruments for reducing obesity," the report states.
- Maria L. Loureiro, Steven T. Yen, Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr. The effects of nutritional labels on obesity. Agricultural Economics, 2012; 43 (3): 333 DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-0862.2012.00586.x
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