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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New research says food labels, including nutrition facts and calorie counts at restaurants, are actually helping consumers make healthier decisions. The research says people are taking a little extra time reading the nutrition labels that list things like calories and sugar content and that information is helping people make better choices about what they eat.
Aiesha Mumford makes it a point to look at nutrition labels when she’s shopping for groceries.
“I’m looking [at] how much sugar is in there, how much added sugar, natural sugar, calories, sodium, fat,” said Mumford.
Nutrition information is hard to miss from the legally required panels on the back of foods, to the promises on the front, and in many restaurants, there are now calorie counts on the menu.
Now, new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says 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, clinical nutrition manager at the Cleveland Clinic.
Researchers analyzed 60 studies on shopping and eating habits between 1900 and 2014. They found because of nutrition labels that 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 to 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 Malone.
Nutritionists hope the food labels will lead to more people making better choices.
The FDA has mandated that nutrition labels get updated to reflect new scientific research. Some changes have already been made, including larger fonts so the information is easier to read.
The deadline for the complete overhaul isn’t until 2021.