Health food labels may soon be more accurate and comprehensive, thanks to a collaborative effort by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University at Buffalo.
A study led by nutrition scientist Dr. Tanya Davenport, professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University and a co-author of the new study, found that brain parts labels can be more accurately labeled when the label information is provided in an electronic format that is easily searchable by consumers.
The research, which was recently published in the journal Nutrition, found a significant difference in how consumers are able to understand the labels for different types of products when the labels are presented electronically.
Davenport and her colleagues asked two different types, a food and a beverage, to be labeled with two different information labels.
One label was based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition of a food ingredient and the other was based only on the FDA definition.
For both labels, the researchers found that consumers who did not understand the label would be less likely to understand and choose the product they were looking at.
While this is important information to be aware of, it does not mean consumers should avoid labels for health foods.
It is just an important step toward a more accurate labeling process, Davenpack said.
In addition to the FDA label, Darnport said her research also revealed that the food labels for vitamins and supplements are more accurate when the ingredients are provided in a more comprehensive and interactive way.
These labels are designed to provide more information, including how many milligrams per teaspoon the product contains and what kinds of nutrients are contained.
This helps consumers make informed decisions when choosing a health food, Davons said.
For example, the FDA labels are meant to be more clear, while the labels on a Vitamix can be confusing, she said.
The new study also found that the labels provided by health food companies are more likely to accurately indicate how much the product is actually being ingested and that this is also important information consumers need to be able to make informed choices when choosing health food products.
“If we want to understand our nutrition, we need to understand how much we are actually consuming,” Davenpens said.
Davons believes the labels can help consumers make better health choices when shopping health food.
Davenpack is currently in the process of working with other scientists to create a more complete nutrition label that will be more easily searchability.”
For example if a food has a low calorie count, and we know that it has a higher amount of carbohydrates, we might choose to buy it over a health product.”
Davenpack is currently in the process of working with other scientists to create a more complete nutrition label that will be more easily searchability.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.