'Traffic Light' Symbols May Help People Make Healthier Food Choices

Studies have found a simpler method for making healthier choices.

According to a study from research affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University and published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, corporate employees ordering lunch through a specially designed website opted fro lower-calorie foods when options were labeled with traffic-light symbols or numerical calorie levels.

Traffic-light labels show a green light next to low-calorie food options, while a yellow light next to mid-calorie options and a red-light next to high-calorie options.

As compared with the menus without no calorie information, the total number of calories that study participants ordered from menus with traffic-light labeling, numerical labeling or both labeling types was reduced by about 10 percent.

In addition, calorie labeling had a greater impact on obese participants that on non-obese participants, while traffic-light labeling was particularly effective for participants who were shown to have poor math skills. However, both labeling were effecting.

According to Eric VanEpps, calorie labeling appears to be effective in an online environment where there are fewer distractions, and the simpler traffic-light labeling seems as effective as standard calorie numbers.

The effectiveness of traffic-light and numeric labeling shows that consumers are making decisions based more on which seems to be healthier.

The FDA is expected to require calorie labeling for restaurants and other food-selling establishments next year.

Source: US News

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