New US labelling cuts calorie consumption

People are reducing their calorie intake because they are being influenced by health labels placed on food. This is according to new research published in the British Medical Journal, which found one-sixth of fast food customers have been buying lower calorie meals since such labelling was introduced in the US.

Investigators found there has been a small yet positive impact since the initiative - which requires food chains with 15 or more branches nationally to display calorie information - was launched in New York in 2008.

The team said such an approach is just one way the obesity epidemic can be combated, noting additional strategies are also required.

They wrote: "Special attention should be focused on educating customers on how to interpret and use nutrition information."

Outlets in England are set to embark on a voluntary version of the scheme as apart of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, which was launched on March 15th 2011.

Dr Sheila Keegan, Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist, commented: "Many food and drink manufacturers have been displaying nutritional information on their packaging for a number of years. Recently there has been a move towards providing more detailed information - not only calorie levels, but also fat content, salt levels, additives and other information. 

"Consumers who are watching their weight can now more easily identify food and drink which fits within their diet regime. It does not dispense with the need for self control, but it certainly can help."