Calorie labelling of prepared foods in supermarkets only marginally helps shoppers reduce ready-to-eat calories, according to a longitudinal study.
At 173 supermarkets in the Northeast, the number of calories per purchase of pre-made baked goods after stores put calorie labels on products The mean decrease was 5.1% (95% CI -5.8 to -4.4). Schools in Boston and the Harvard Pilgrim Institute for Healthcare and colleagues.
Seeing greater reductions in prepared cooked meals, the new calorie label stimulated an average 11% (95% CI – 11.9 to -10.1) calorie-per-transaction decline, The group noted in JAMA Internal Medicine .
While significant, the calorie reductions from these averages are typically small, equivalent to about 10 per transaction from prepared baked goods such as muffins and doughnuts Calories, cut cheese by about 18 calories from deli foods like meats and doughnuts. Average calorie counts for supermarket-prepared main and side dishes did not change after the calories were visible on the package.
Notably, shoppers did not compensate for the calorie reduction by purchasing more similarly packaged foods without calorie labels, the authors noted.
Despite the small average decline, Petimar’s team remains positive about the changes, noting that “these declines may be meaningful given the ubiquitous calorie labelling in retail environments , the frequency with which people consume prepared foods and the growing market for prepared foods in supermarkets, at the population level.”
However, in an accompanying commentary, Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU Public The M.H. was not so convinced, saying that these small reductions in purchased calories “do not appear to be sufficient to have any effect on weight.”
She also noted that these findings are not surprising, since They are in line with previous research on fast food restaurant labels.
“Interventions like this can have a big impact on some people — I pay close attention to calorie labels, for example — but their population-based benefits seem small,” she said. wrote.
Nestlé explained that this type of obesity policy intervention requires several things to be truly effective. First, people need to know the number of calories they need in a day, and how calories in a particular program relate to total calories — information that “many people probably have,” she noted. But most importantly, shoppers also need to be “willing and able to deprive themselves of attractive, tasty foods when their total calorie needs are met” — which can be much more difficult for the average consumer.
“My interpretation of the current state of obesity prevention research is that any single policy intervention is unlikely to show any small improvement,” she concluded.
After this analysis, Petimar and team looked at the supermarkets of a supermarket chain with locations in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. They compared the chain’s sales in the 2 years before the implementation of calorie labeling in the prepared foods sector with sales in the 7 months after the change, accounting for 4,459,407,189 items purchased at all stores between 2015 and 2017. These transactions rarely happen online or using SNAP benefits.
Adjusted analysis for holidays, including the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas, Easter week, and the Fourth of July week to reduce potential residual confounding.
Kristen Monaco is a staff writer focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry and nephrology news. She works out of the New York City office and has been with the company since 2015.
This research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Petimar and co-authors report that NIH and Science Center funding is in the public interest.
Nestlé did not disclose any information.