Food labels are helping people make healthier decisions

National

New research finds food labels, including nutrition facts and calorie counts at restaurants, are actually helping consumers make healthier decisions.

Kenneth Craig found out how it’s working and where people are cutting back.

Aiesha Mumford makes it a point to look at nutrition labels when she’s shopping for groceries.

“I’m looking how much sugar is in there, how much added sugar, natural sugar, calories, sodium, fat,” said Mumford.

Andrew Kaye also reads the fine print. “Really it’s the chart here, and I’ll look at the percentage,” said Kaye.

In recent years, it’s become hard to avoid nutrition information, from the legally-required panels on the back of foods, to the promises on the front, and the calorie counts on many restaurant menus.

Now, new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests all that labeling is actually paying off.

“What they found was that it did influence consumer behavior so it had some positive impacts,” said Lindsay Malone, a nutritionist with the Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers analyzed 60 studies on shopping and eating habits between 1990 and 2014.

They found because of nutrition labels:
— people ate 6.6 percent fewer calories.
— and cut 10 percent of the fat from their diet.
They also increased the amount of vegetables they ate by 13.5 percent.

“I’m really encouraged by the increase in vegetable consumption that probably surprised me the most,” said Malone.

But when it comes other areas, like carbohydrates or protein, the review found the labels didn’t make a significant impact.

“I think it’s very important to educate yourself on the healthy eating,” said Kaye.

And nutritionists hope the food labels will lead to more people making better choices.

The study found nutritional labels also led food manufacturers to put less trans fat and sodium in packaged foods.

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