A new study looks at how much consumers actually read nutrition facts labels.

By Jennipher Walters
Updated: October 25, 2012

We all know to check the nutrition facts label on the foods we eat. And many of us do. But are we really reading and understanding them? That's what one research study sought to find out.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota asked 203 people to look at 64 food products on a computer monitor that was outfitted with an eye-tracking device. The scientists moved the nutrition facts label on different foods left, right and center. They also showed foods with photos, a list of ingredients, and a description of the food.

What researchers found was that nutrition facts labels shown in the center were looked at 30 percent longer than labels that were on the left or right. Additionally, most participants in the study looked at facts at the top of the nutrition facts label longer than those on the bottom.

What's really interesting though, is that what most subjects said they did was actually different than what their eyeballs did. While about a third of subjects self-reported that they almost always check calorie content, the eye-tracker found that only nine percent of participants actually looked at calorie count, according to The Atlantic.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, goes to show that location matters when it comes to nutrition facts labels. Therefore, researchers recommend that food packages present nutrition information centrally.

The research is also a good reminder to make sure that you're really looking at those nutrition facts labels closely - no matter where they're located on the package! Do you read food labels? How closely?

Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.



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