A new study announced on Thursday finds that women who read labels on food packaging are nearly four kilograms lighter than those who don't.
Scientists from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and other international institutions found that reading the labels on food products is linked to obesity prevention.
Using US-based data taken from the annual National Health Interview Survey performed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that female consumers who read labels on food products had a body mass index 1.49 points lower than those who didn't read labels.
"Obesity is one of the most serious health problems in modern day US," says lead author María Loureiro. "The number of overweight or obese adults has risen over the years. From 2009 to 2010, more than a third (nearly 37 percent) of the adult population in this country were obese and in children and adolescents this figure rises to 17 percent."
The study was published in the journal Agricultural Economics.
Other findings were that smokers were much less likely to read nutrition labeling than nonsmokers. "Their lifestyle involves less healthy habits and as a consequence, it could be the case that they are not so worried about the nutritional content of the food they eat, according to our results," noted the researchers.
Also urban-dwellers are much more likely to read nutritional information that those living outside cities. In terms of gender, 58 percent of men either habitually or always read nutrition labels, compared to 74 percent of women.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, people don't read nutrition label closely enough, but rather just take a quick peek without truly taking in the information.