Having information about the number of calories does not always mean that we will make smarter choices, when it comes to ourselves or nutrition for kids. However, recent research suggests that we will take note when the information is easy to understand, and easy to understand information can be help for overweight children.
In particular, a study carried out by the Bloomberg School of Public Health atJohnHopkinsUniversityfound that people were less likely to buy high calorie sugary drinks when the information was clearly spelled out for them alongside the product. The study concerning nutrition and kids even found that teenagers took some notice of the displayed statistics.
The study did not indicate precisely which non sugary drinks were chosen instead, although in all probability, diet soda and bottled water were popular choices, and considered to be healthier.
This particular study is interesting, as previous similar tests have been inconclusive, or conflicting in their results. It was widely thought that posting calorie information above the counter in fast food restaurants achieved little in the way of changing the habits of customers, or ensuring children and healthy meals went together.
Various surveys in this area have had different results. A 2009 test by Yale and NYU staff found that posting the calorie count did influence what people bought. However, a later NYU study did not find these same results, and yet another study at a taco restaurant inWashingtondiscovered that there was absolutely no difference, after posting the calorie count information.
Of course, a lot of this depends on how and where the information is displayed, and calorie information that is hidden away, difficult or too small to read, or hard to interpret probably makes no difference to what a customer buys. In addition, many consumers have no idea how many calories they should be consuming during the day.
Sara Bleich, an assistant professor, when commenting on the John Hopkins study, pointed out that when calorie information is presented so that teens can actually grasp it, they do take notice of it. Further, when it comes to nutrition & kids, most consumers have no idea how many calories are in a tin of soda, and give it little thought.
American teenagers consume around 300 calories daily just from sugary drinks. Effectively using calorie information posters and other media would almost certainly make at least some difference to the rate of obesity in children.