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Nutrition facts label does not help curb obesity epidemic

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Mandatory fast food menu labeling does not help change consumers' dietary habits, according to a new study scheduled to be published in the February issue of the American Journal for Preventive Medicine.

The study found nutrition facts added to menu at Taco Time restaurants in King County, Washington  had not had any effect on consumers' purchasing habits.

In King County, a mandatory menu labeling regulation intended to curb the obesity epidemic went into effect in January 2009 to require all restaurant chains with 15 or more locations to post nutrition facts for menu items. Calorie information is required to be posted at the point of purchase.

Eric Finkelstein and colleagues from Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School and health officials in Seattle and King County compared purchasing behaviors at the Taco Time restaurants with and without nutrition facts labels provided.

The researchers found the menu labeling did not affect the total sales and average calories per purchase.

Finkelstein said the results suggest that mandatory menu labeling is unlikely to affect the obesity epidemic.

Finkelstein was cited as saying the Food and Drug Administration will reportedly announce its regulation on fast food menu labeling by March 23, 2011.

(David Liu)

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