Dieters are more likely to read and understand food labels than people who aren't dieting.
This is the finding of a study by Audrey Spencer from Lancaster University to be presented today, Thursday 8 May 2014, at the British Psychological Society annual conference hosted at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.
Some 255 participants completed questionnaires on their mood, wellbeing, how they controlled what they ate and their food shopping habits. The participants were made up of 140 who were non-dieters and 115 who were members of a slimming group.
The results showed that the slimming group used food labels much more frequently than the non-dieters. They had an increased nutritional awareness and felt more confident to make healthier choices. Also, a strong trend was found in the slimming group between weight satisfaction and overall higher wellbeing.
The study concluded that reading and understanding food labels makes people think more about what they eat.
Audrey Spencer explained: "People who are trying to lose weight make much more effort to read the labels on food than other people do. Reading labels informs people about what is in their food and helps them to make decisions about what they will and won't eat. As a result, choosing not to eat unhealthy foods can help them to lose weight and this has an effect on their overall wellbeing.
We need to educate people to understand what is in the food they are eating. There still seems to be a lot of confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet and the different labelling in supermarkets adds to this. The government should give greater priority to education relating to healthy eating rather than having an over-reliance on food labelling by manufacturers and retailers. If people have a better understanding they will make healthier choices. This in turn could alleviate some of the burden that unhealthy choices have on the NHS."
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