Sep 05 2014
We recently setup a survey that’s given us some really interesting insights into how you, the public, respond to nutritional labelling on food packaging. The main theme is that too many still ignore the nutritional labelling on the food. 48.8% of you say you rate the importance of health and…
We recently setup a survey that’s given us some really interesting insights into how you, the public, respond to nutritional labelling on food packaging. The main theme is that too many still ignore the nutritional labelling on the food. 48.8% of you say you rate the importance of health and fitness at 5/5, yet just 31.2% said nutritional food labelling influences your food choices. Of those who make the effort to exercise for 15 minutes 3 times a week, just 34.6% said nutritional labelling influenced you, while 20.4% are not influenced and 45% are sometimes influenced by it.
This article from the BBC suggests people are ignoring food labelling when buying ‘bad foods’ because they know the food is bad and wish to indulge. This does make sense; if you give-in to bad food you probably don’t want to wallow in your bad choice by reading the labelling, which you already can guess isn’t going to read well and definitely won’t help you to enjoy your little indulgence.
The same article also says people have been found to also ignore labelling when purchasing foods thought of as ‘basic essentials’, such as butter and flour. The supposed psychology behind this is that these items are unavoidable. While hoping not to sound too harsh, this really isn’t very clever at all. Anything you consider ‘basic’ and ‘essential’ are things I assume you buy on a regular basis and therefore regularly consume. These are exactly the food where small and relatively painless changes can lead to big wins and big improvements in for your health.
A study by Aarhus University, talked about in this article, found shoppers are driven by familiarity and food category. For example, if someone considers pizzas unhealthy they will apply this to all pizzas and ignore clear labelling suggesting one pizza is much healthier than another. The study also found a natural aversion to temptation in healthy-minded shoppers, an ability to block out and ignore unhealthy food aisles. While perhaps mildly effective in a broad sense, categorising food ourselves and ignoring the, sometimes wide, range in nutritional goodness that can be found within food groups could be misleading us into thinking we’re making the right choice when we’re not.
What Can You Do?
It is easy to ignore labelling when you know it’s going to be bad news, however I’ve personally found it very surprising how often seemingly similar foods can differ enormously. So, you need to psych yourself up, and start checking those labels! The great thing is we’re creatures of habit, meaning you only need check the labels once or twice before you’ll find yourself buying the healthiest products without thought, out of sheer habit alone. If you put in the effort to exercise regularly, you owe it to yourself to back your gym efforts up with a little more thought at the supermarket.