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90 Percent of Parents Misled by Food Nutrition Labels

Monday, January 18, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: nutrition labels, parents, health news

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(NaturalNews) Recent research conducted by the British Heart Foundation (NHF) has revealed that about 90 percent of British mothers do not properly understand food nutritional labels. Most of the women falsely believe that products claiming to be good sources of certain vitamins or rich in whole grains are healthy, despite the fact that many of them are actually chock full of unhealthy ingredients.

The most common labeling scheme identified by researchers was the front-labeling of foods that are high in fat and sugar with glowing health claims. While partially true in some cases, phrases like "naturally-flavored" and "no artificial ingredients" were found to be commonly used on breakfast products that are high in refined sugar and bad saturated fats. One cereal claiming to boost heart health and maintain a healthy body was found to have more sugar per serving than a doughnut. Another breakfast cereal bar claiming to be high in vitamins was found to have more saturated fat and sugar than a piece of chocolate cake.

Food manufacturers have received heavy criticism in recent years for alleged advertising strategies that target children with unhealthy foods. Reluctant parents often give in because of health claims that, when examined more closely, seem to contradict the nutrition label. Unfortunately, most busy parents fail to recognize advertising discrepancies.

When asked in the survey, participants indicated that they would prefer a nutrition labeling system that was consistent and placed entirely on the front of food packaging. As it currently stands, product manufacturers are not required to label their products in any specific manner other than the mandatory nutritional facts label located on product backs. This is true both in the U.K. and in the U.S.

Spokesmen from various food companies countered the claims of the study, indicating that the labeling on their packaging is both truthful and transparent. All ingredients can be found on the nutrition label as can the amounts of fat, salt and sugar. Food producers are continually adjusting their product formulations to meet the demands of their customers, they say, cutting things like sodium and saturated fat and including healthier ingredients.

Researchers from BHF, however, continue to demand that stricter labeling laws be put in place in order to alleviate some of the confusion over food nutrition. They believe that a standardized system of labeling will help to clarify how healthy a product really is and lead to a more informed consumer base.

Sources for this story include: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8421326.st...

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