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Good intentions, foiled

(article, Culinate staff)

In the school-lunch-reform movement, banning soda sales has been popular. But, as the New York Times Well blog noted in 2008 and again just recently, eliminating soda from schools hasn't been shown to improve student diets. In fact, whether a school has a partial or complete ban on soda sales makes little difference in how much soda the students guzzle down:

bq. The study, which looked at thousands of public-school students across 40 states, found that removing soda from cafeterias and school vending machines only prompted students to buy sports drinks, sweetened fruit drinks and other sugar-laden beverages instead. In states that banned only soda, students bought and consumed sugary drinks just as frequently at school as their peers in states where there were no bans at all.

As for the much-debated nutrition labels on packaged food, an Atlantic blog repost recently pointed out the obvious: consumers don't really read the labels on the food they buy. The post described an eye-tracking study:

bq. The survey showed that 33 percent of participants said they "almost always" look at calorie content on nutrition labels. The eye-tracker didn't see eye to eye with the participants: only nine percent actually looked at calorie information on almost all food products on the computer screen. Thirty-one percent said they "almost always" look at total fat, 20 percent said the same for trans fat, 24 percent for sugar, and 26 percent said they looked at serving size. Again, the eye-tracker disagreed. Only about one percent actually looked at all the other nutrition information on all food products.