Food labels don’t impact students’ choices

July 5, 2011 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Food labels don’t impact students’ choices
New study findings from researchers at Ghent University in Belgium report that nutrition labels on cafeteria food make no difference in college students' meal choices.

To investigate, researchers asked more than 200 students who regularly ate at two of the university's cafeterias to log their diets for several days.

Researchers then put up posters in the cafeterias that rated meals on how healthy they were: zero stars for the least healthy to three stars for the most healthy.

Labels next to menu items also highlighted whether a meal was high in salt, calories, saturated fat or vegetables.

Six months later, researchers had the participants, who were mostly female undergraduate students, keep track of what they ate over the span of a few days.

Though the researchers predicted that the diners would have responded to the posters and made healthier food choices, they found no difference in the number of meals eaten from each star category.

The results add to evidence that suggest nutritional information makes little difference to people when they are eating out. 

Earlier this year a study published in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine examined the effect of nutrition labeling on consumer choices and found that adding nutritional information to menus at fast food outlets made no difference.  In fact, after one year, the number of calories per transaction was the same for restaurants that offered full nutrient information for menu items, compared to restaurants that didn't.   

Researchers say the main concern is that for college students, cafeteria meals are often their main source of food, meaning

The latest findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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