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Study Suggests Serving Size is Major Factor on Food Labels

Redesigning Nutrition Labels For More Transparency
The details included on product labels play a significant role in the purchasing decisions of consumers, especially when the information pertains to their health.

An increasing number of customers have demanded more transparency and stricter regulations on food labels. And industry leaders are taking note.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed making it mandatory for companies to include the percent daily value of added sugar on the labeling of food products. This proposal was an extension of the one made in March 2014, suggesting an overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label to make calorie and fat content information more noticeable.

Another change the agency outlined in its proposed changes was to amend serving size requirements to better reflect the eating habits of people today. The organization stated that it believes these serving sizes should be representative of how consumers actually eat, instead of what it is recommended.

German Researchers Reveal Serving Size Influences Consumers
Now, there might be even more reason for regulators to take this suggested change to label requirements into consideration.

The Daily Meal reported that a new study published in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research,{citation wording a bit close to the source's found that the smaller the serving size listed on a label is, the more of it the consumer will buy.

As the article explained, people often skim over nutrition labels to see how many grams of sugar or sodium the item contains. If the numbers are relatively low, they assume it is healthy and are more likely to buy it.

"Smaller recommended serving sizes will let all nutrition values on the label appear smaller too, independent of the product's actual nutritional composition," Dr. Ossama Elshiewy, one of the German researchers who authored the study, explained to Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Because the consumers tend to disregard the serving size the nutritional values represent, they are misled into believing the item is healthier than it actually is. They may also compare it to the label of another brand of the product. This is a problem, Elshiewy added, because "people are comparing calorie information that is not comparable."

If the redesign of Nutrition Facts label is accepted, consumers can expect to see the numbers of calories, added sugar and serving sizes more prominently placed on the label.