Study: Nutritional labeling helps – somewhat

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Dec 17, 2018

Nutritional labeling on product packaging and other venues has positive effects on consumption and use of certain nutrients, but not others, according to a new research study.

The study by Tufts University, reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, looked at the effects of various forms of nutritional information on food labeling on four continents. This information included the Nutrition Facts panel used in the U.S., as well as ad-hoc claims like “low sodium” and “fat-free.”

It found that such information correlated with a drop in calorie consumption of 6.6%, total fat by 10.6% and other unhealthy food options by 13%. It also apparently led to an increase in vegetable consumption of 13.5% On the other hand, it found little or no effect on the consumption of total carbohydrates or saturated fat on the negative side, or of fruits or whole grains on the positive side.

The study also looked at correlations between labeling and food manufacturers’ use of various nutrients. It found that use of trans fat decreased by 64.3% and of sodium by 8.9%, but that there was no observable effect on total calories, saturated fat, dietary fiber, total fat, sugar or cholesterol.