Telephone surveys of more than 600 U.S. adults and more than 300 college students found that "approximately half of the surveyed college students and a one-third of the individuals in the community sample reported that they did not generally look at food labels," according to the researchers.
The surveys also found two-thirds of the participants were unable to identify the number of calories they should be consuming each day, and 44 percent to 57 percent of the combined sample "self-reported that they would not likely use restaurant food caloric information," the researchers said.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggest legislation for nutrition and calorie labeling on menus "may not be particularly effective in combating the obesity epidemic if people are not looking at existing food labels and are not able to use this information for nutrition planning."
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