Since obesity has now assumed alarming proportions, health experts all over the world suggest people to keep strict tabs on their calorie intake. To help people in this effort, posting calorie labels on restaurant menus was made mandatory in some areas. A study was carried out to see how helpful that was in raising an awareness.

Though the number of people who now view the calorie labels before ordering meals in the King County has gone up, most people do not bother to read the calorie information, it was found.

25percent consumers of King County in 2010 were found to read calorie information on restaurant food menus as compared to only 8percent of the doing so in 2008 after the mandatory food labeling came into effect.

Though the threefold increase in the number of people who like to watch what they eat is heartening, it is sad to see that a majority of the population continues to ignore these labels.

“The proportion of consumers who said they saw and used information that lists the calories in a McDonald’s Big Mac (550) or a Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino (380) jumped from 8 percent in 2008, to nearly 25 percent in 2010, a year after mandatory labeling took effect,” it was pointed out.

Roxana Chen, a social-research scientist with Public Health — Seattle & King County, who led the study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Public Health said, “It definitely is promising. If you post information, more people are going to see it and use it.”

The study also shed light on the people who were more likely to pay heed to the calorie labels. Whites, older people, highly educated people and affluent ones were more likely to notice the labels and, in certain cases, change their order based on the calorie count mentioned against it.

At the same time, those with a high school education or less, those earning less than $35,000 a year and men were less likely to use the information, pointed out the study.

The findings of this study were based on telephonic surveys carried out on 3.132 people living in King County who had eaten out at restaurants required to post calorie labels at least once during the previous week.

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