September 2009 Issue

Nutrition Profiling—Can It Help You Make Better Choices?

From red hearts on oatmeal boxes to yellow suns on cracker packages, dozens of nutrition symbols developed by manufacturers, trade groups and health organizations hope to draw your attention to healthier foods. Supermarkets are now getting in on the act, adding their own nutrient profiling to shelf tags beneath foods. But do such programs work? Many people seem to have doubts about nutrition messages on foods. According to the American Dietetic Associationís Nutrition and You: Trends 2008 survey, 67 percent of consumers think diet and nutrition is very important, yet only 35 percent cite food labels as credible information sources. Fewer than 10 percent listed food manufacturers as credible sources. People are more likely to trust nutrition symbols endorsed by third parties such as health organizations, according to a study published in the scientific journal, Appetite.

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