Research: Food labels, calorie menus are helping consumers make healthier decisions

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LIVERMORE, CA – JULY 18: A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway’s new “Lifestyle” store July 18, 2007 in Livermore, California. Safeway unveiled its newest Lifestyle store that features numerous organic and natural foods as well as expanded produce, meat, seafood and floral departments. The store also offers freshly made […]

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

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

“And what are you looking for?

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

In recent years, it’s become hard to avoid nutrition information from the legally-required panels on the back of foods to 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.

Lindsay Malone is a nutritionist with the Cleveland Clinic.

“What they found was that it did influence consumer behavior so it had some positive impacts.”

Researchers analyzed 60 studies on shopping and eating habits between 1990 and 2014 . They found because of nutrition labels people ate six point six 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.”

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

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

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