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Understanding nutrition labels can lead to healthier eating

ke. "In the third component, each participant 'taught' the rest of the class by sharing nutritional information about her product, including whether it was a good or excellent source of calcium," said Chapman-Novakofski.

The 47 participants in the eight-week study, which will be published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, were asked how much calcium they consume in their diet before and after the completing the activity. "The post-test revealed that the participants significantly increased their calcium intake to 821 mg per day, up from 372 mg per day," said Chapman-Novakofski. "That's a lot closer to the daily requirements of 1,200 mg per day for men and women over 50, 1,000 mg for men and women aged 19 through 50 and 1,300 mg per day for teenagers, 9-13 years."

Of course, being able to read and understand the nutrition labels doesn't guarantee that a person will suddenly start eating right, but at least they can become aware of what nutrients they are getting from a certain food.

"Many people were surprised to find out that there's calcium in cake mixes, frozen dinners, dry oatmeal, and soups," said Chapman-Novakofski. "And questions about calcium in food servings led to other questions about the fat content of foods, how portion sizes are determined, and the difference between weight and volume of food portions."

She said that the post-evaluation demonstrated that participants intended to use food labels more often when making shopping decisions.


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Contact: Debra Levey Larson, Agricultural Communications
dlarson@uiuc.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
7-Apr-2004


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