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Consumers Confused by Nutrition Labels

NEW YORK—Making smart food choices is key to losing or managing weight. But what if you don't know what you're eating? According to "Nielsen Global Survey of Food Labeling Trends," 53% of consumers consider themselves overweight, and 59% have difficulty understanding nutrition labels on food packaging. Further, of 10 product claims studied, only three were considered believable by more than 20% of those surveyed.

Respondents also showed strong support for calorie counts on restaurant menus, with close to half (49%) reporting that fast food restaurants should always include calorie information on menus, and 31% indicating that fast food restaurants should sometimes do so.

According to Nielsen, more than 25,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world were surveyed.  "Consumers around the world have healthy eating on their minds and consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers have an opportunity to help," the company notes. "Consumer-friendly nutritional labeling can be a powerful marketing tool as consumers are hungry for easy-to-understand information. Clearly there is a need and an opportunity for more education to help reduce the skepticism that is apparent around all parts of the globe. And there is a need to offer tasty and healthful options to satisfy both the mind and body."

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