Friday, November 19, 2010

Misleading Nutrition Labels Lead to Weight Loss Failure

(Article first published as Are Nutrition Labels the Real Reason You Can’t Lose Weight? on Technorati.)
We all pick up food items in the grocery store and quickly glance at the nutrition label to see how many calories are in our favorite meal. Some make it down to the fine print to check out the carbs, sugar, fats and sodium. The problem is most people don’t make the connection between the misleading serving sizes listed.

Manufacturers know that their customers examine the required labels before they make a purchase, and do a good job to make you think you can eat more and consume fewer calories. Even the portion size on the nutrition label can influence whether you view the product as fattening. And we all know this has a direct impact on how much you eat and your ability to lose weight.

Label Size Influences Caloric Perception
It appears that people are easily misled when it comes to interpreting food labels, and will eat more of an item if they believe it is a small portion. Information from a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that the way a manufacturer listed the portion size on the label influenced how much a consumer would be likely to eat.

Researchers provided consumers with different food items and determined how much people would eat based on the food label. Large portions were intentionally labeled as small, and participants ate more and felt less guilt in their choices. The study authors called this ‘guiltless gluttony’. Similarly, when the large serving was labeled correctly, people ate less and experienced a higher level of guilt if they overate.

Manufacturers Use Food Labeling as a Marketing Gimmick
Food manufacturers have been slowly altering the portion sizes on many food products to intentionally fool the consumer. The result is the expanding American waistline and the problem we know as the obesity epidemic. People want to make the right food choices by selecting lower calorie fare with less sodium and no hydrogenated fats. Food selection becomes much more difficult when manufacturers use their marketing tricks so we purchase products that are unhealthy and laden with excess calories.

Be Vigilant When Grocery Shopping
The key to winning the food labeling battle is to become an empowered consumer. Examine every label and scrutinize the serving size and calorie content. Do the math to determine the total calories in the serving that you will actually eat, not in the small serving size listed on the label. Most people will eat at least twice as much as listed for one serving, and feel the calories they consumed is the amount listed on the label for one serving. This type of miscalculation rapidly leads to weight gain and obesity.

Food manufacturers utilize focus groups to find ways to compel you to buy their products and eat more than you intend. Deceiving food label practices are just another way being used to drive sales and encourage over consumption. Read nutrition labels carefully, determine the actual calories in a real serving and use that information to your health and weight advantage.

1 comment:

Jack Valens said...

Great post John...

I think this a fact that people need to realize fully.

It's easy to feel comfortable with what the labels have to say...

Misleading serving size is the classic one that seems to pop up all the time, although I think people are starting to catch on to that little trick.

Another one that seems to dupe shoppers is the "all natural" label. Apparently the "all natural" claim isn't regulated by the FDA so could in fact mean just about anything lol!

Anyway thanks for the article. I've social bookmarked it.