According to the Cornell study of food labels in dining halls, when people are aware of the calories and fat content in foods, they tend to lean toward healthier options.
Despite municipal and federal legislation that want to make it mandatory for large restaurants and dining facilities to put labels on their foods, there wasn’t sufficient data until now to support this move, and prove that labels help people make healthier food choices. This study is one of the few that has successfully demonstrated how it can effectively create awareness about the food that’s up for consumption and influence buyers into eating low-calorie alternates.
According to David Levitsky, co-author on the study, “The results revealed a 7 percent reduction of mean total calories and total fat purchased per week. Also, the percent of sales of low-fat and low-calories foods increased, while sales of high-calorie and high-fat foods decreased. The reason we found an effect is because we had a tremendous amount of data, though it’s a small but significant effect.”
That said, we’ve already cautioned you about the deceptive nature of ‘low-fat’ and ‘reduced fat’ labels, so as much as we hope that it becomes mandatory for restaurants to provide caloric information, we still wouldn’t recommend reaching for the diet-labelled foods without inspecting the nutritional value and ingredients thoroughly.