Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Put Labels Higher on Packages for Health

Location of nutrition labels may determine how often they are viewed

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that people report that they view nutrition labels more often than they actually do. In a simulated grocery shopping exercise, 203 participants observed 64 different grocery products displayed on a computer monitor. Each screen contained three elements, the well-known Nutrition Facts label, a picture and list of ingredients, and a description of the product with price and quantity information.
These three elements were presented so that one third of the participants each saw the Nutrition Facts label on the left, right, and center. Each subject was asked whether they would consider buying the product. Participants were aware that their eye movements would be tracked, but unaware that the study focus was nutrition information. Using a computer equipped with an eye-tracking device, University of Minnesota researchers observed that most consumers view label components at the top more than those at the bottom. Further data suggest that the average consumer reads only the top five lines on a Nutrition Facts label.
Self-reported viewing of Nutrition Facts label components was higher than objectively measured viewing. In fact, 33% of participants self-reported that they almost always look at calorie content on Nutrition Facts labels, 31% reported that they almost always look at the total fat content, 20% said the same for trans fat content, 24% for sugar content, and 26% for serving size. However, only 9% of participants actually looked at calorie count for almost all of the products in this study, and about 1% of participants looked at each of these other components (total fat, trans fat, sugar, and serving size) on almost all labels.
Consumers are more likely to view centrally located labels and nutrients nearer the label’s top. Because knowing the amounts of key nutrients that foods contain can influence consumers to make healthier purchases, prominently positioning key nutrients, and labels themselves, could substantially impact public health.”

More Restaurants using food labeling LA Times 10-22-11

October 22, 2011

Americans are craving more information about the food they are served, and fast-food companies, as well as casual restaurants, are increasingly obliging, many going well beyond legally mandated calorie counts.

They are updating their signs and menus for diet-conscious customers, and they also are highlighting potential problems for those with food allergies or other dietary restrictions.

Although responding to demand, quick-service restaurants also see that providing the additional information can help them stand out in the highly competitive marketplace.

"If you can demonstrate to families that you can offer them a safe meal, you establish a tremendous sense of loyalty and create repeat customers," said Chris Weiss, a vice president at the nonprofit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. "As we look to the future, we'll definitely see more restaurants doing this."

Healthful eating is already at the forefront of the food industry. California requires large chains to disclose calorie counts for each meal, and similar federal rules are coming next year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Healthy food isn't more expensive,,,verified by NY times

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli ...” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
Daniel Borris for The New York Times
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)
In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.)
Another argument runs that junk food is cheaper when measured by the calorie, and that this makes fast food essential for the poor because they need cheap calories. But given that half of the people in this country (and a higher percentage of poor people) consume too many calories rather than too few, measuring food’s value by the calorie makes as much sense as measuring a drink’s value by its alcohol content. (Why not drink 95 percent neutral grain spirit, the cheapest way to get drunk?)
Besides, that argument, even if we all needed to gain weight, is not always true. A meal of real food cooked at home can easily contain more calories, most of them of the “healthy” variety. (Olive oil accounts for many of the calories in the roast chicken meal, for example.)In comparing prices of real food and junk food, I used supermarket ingredients, not the pricier organic or local food that many people would consider ideal. But food choices are not black and white; the alternative to fast food is not necessarily organic food, any more than the alternative to soda is Bordeaux.
The alternative to soda is water.

I said it all along, it is cheap to eat HEALTHY!