Food Nutrition Labels are Puzzle

By: trademagazin Date: 2007. 07. 04. 00:00

In a study of educated adults — 75 percent had at least a high school education — most had trouble understanding everyday food nutrition labels.


Dietitians aren't surprised, since they constantly have to
explain food labeling to clients.

"The biggest problem is (figuring) serving size,"
said Dr. Russell Rothman, an assistant professor of internal medicine and
pediatrics at the Center for Health Services Research at Vanderbilt University,
who led the study about nutrition labels.

His team surveyed 200 primary-care patients from a wide
range of socioeconomic backgrounds and asked them to finish a 24-item measure
of food label comprehension.

They answered, on average, just 69 percent of the questions

Besides confusing serving sizes, people were most often
mixed up about extraneous material on the label, Rothman found. They often
calculated the data incorrectly — for instance, only 37 percent could figure
the number of carbohydrates consumed from a 20-ounce bottle of soda that
contained 2.5 servings.

"A soda bottle is typically 20 ounces," Rothman
said, "and it will say, 'servings per container is 2.5.' People will not
realize that. They think 20 ounces is a serving." If the label says 200
calories per serving, many will mistakenly think that means the whole bottle.
However, after doing the math, the entire bottle would actually provide 500
calories, he said.

"When you are looking at food labels, take your time
and be careful," Rothman advised. "They are confusing and have a lot
of complex information in them. Pay particular attention to serving size and
how to apply that to how much you are actually eating."

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