Americans read food labels but are still overweight

Monday, July 3, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Oh, the irony. A nation full of overweight people is also full of label readers. Nearly 80 percent of Americans insist they check the labels on food at the grocery store.

They scan the little charts like careful dieters, looking for no-nos such as fat and calories and sugars. Yet even when the label practically screams, "Don't do it!" people drop the package into the cart anyway. At least that is what 44 percent of people admitted in a recent AP-Ipsos poll.

So attentive, yet so overweight. Two-thirds of people in the United States weigh too much. Why, then, don't labels make a difference?

Robert Blendon, professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, believes most people do look at labels but not to lose weight. Instead, diabetics use it to avoid sugar, or people with high blood pressure steer clear of sodium.

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