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Healthline Connects

Food Label Calorie Counts All Wrong

And just when you thought you had your calorie intake under control, your healthy dinner plans set, and your weight loss goals just around the corner. A new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that restaurants and makers of frozen food often provide calorie counts that are up to 18% inaccurate.


Professor Susan Roberts of Tufts University, who initiated the study, said she analyzed 10 frozen-food product lines and 29 restaurants, purposely selecting foods that she thought dieters would choose – full meals that were listed at about 500 calories per serving. But in the lab, tests revealed striking inaccuracies. Restaurant meals underestimated their calories by about 18%; frozen foods tended to be about 8% off. But even that 8% is far from innocuous. According to Roberts, "the 18% and 8% figures are just what you need not to lose weight.”


Unfortunately, there are currently no devices in place to regulate the propagation of this type of misinformation. Although federal regulations are very strict regarding the accuracy of other packaging stats – such as the net weight of food packaging – calorie counts only have to come with 20% of accurate lab readings. The sad truth is that without more careful regulation, even the most vigilant calorie-counter can be deceived.


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