Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Want to Be Skinny? Read.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 9:20 AM

No, really. Reading actually burns calories. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the study recently published in the journal Agricultural Economics (via The Atlantic) that indicates that women who read Nutrition Facts labels on food have a body mass index of 1.49 points lower than those who don't. The result is about eight pounds on average.

For men, however, it's considerably less. One can make a lot guesses as to why, but my best guess is that even if a man bothers to read the label, they're not as fazed by the calorie count as women. Generally speaking, men don't start counting calories in their pre-teen years like many women do. Many of us never stop.

I know that personally, the Nutrition Facts label had quite an effect on my diet, appearing on products at a time when I was just starting to buy food for myself. I recall being very shocked by the number of calories I was consuming with my Mountain Dew and package of Pop-Tarts kick-start-my-day breakfast. And subsequently cutting it back to a single Mountain Dew and just one Pop-Tart a day. I had 8 a.m. classes every day that necessitated that level of caffeine and sugar.

Though I'm off Mountain Dew and Pop-Tarts for good now, I still read the Nutrition Facts label on everything that I purchase. I very closely look at the amount of protein in relation to total carbohydrates and often put items back if it appears they are just full of empty calories. I also enjoy reading what food producers think a serving is. Always good for a laugh. Because I have yet to get more than three servings from a jar of Nutella. Though I did — one time — get five (instead of four!) servings from a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. More often than not, a pint is just two servings for me. Though there was that one time I finished off an entire pint of Cherry Garcia ... I really don't want to think about how many calories I consumed that night.

Anyone else read those labels as religiously as I do? If so, how does it affect your purchases? And what about in restaurants? I'm not sure I'd ever eat out again if I knew how many calories I consumed during my typical restaurant meal.

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