Can nutrition labeling affect obesity?
Current estimates of obesity in the United States indicate that 68% of adults (Flegel et al. 2010) and 32% of children (Ogden et al. 2010) are overweight or obese. The incidence of obesity has risen dramatically over the past two decades. Obesity in an individual is the result of an energy imbalance in intake and output, but the cause of this imbalance on a population level is not fully understood. Changes in the food environment, including the proliferation of convenience and fast foods high in energy and fat content, have paralleled the obesity epidemic. One approach to combating obesity is to educate the public about nutrition and the nutritional components of the food they purchase. Nutrition labeling of foods sold in stores and in restaurants, when available, is designed to provide the public with information to make informed choices about food purchases. The presumption for an obesity impact is that knowledge about the calorie content of foods will motivate and/or guide individuals to consume the appropriate amount of calories for proper weight management.