Is Ignorance Bliss?
Do we honestly care what we’re putting in our bodies? Maybe not. In a day and age where our country is taking a nutritional nose-dive as evidenced by skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes, one would think that our desire to know what is going into our bodies would increase all the more. However, the research is not so optimistic, and sometimes just the opposite.
Recently in some of our Weight Management classes we have been discussing how to use the nutrition facts label to help manage our health. In class last night a patient commented that more and more restaurants are providing nutritional information on their products, and how wonderful that is. I was reminded of an observational study published in the May 2009 edition of the American Journal of Public Health which produced some shocking findings.
Looking at four popular fast food chains: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King and Au Bon Pain, the purpose was to determine how frequently consumers looked at the on-premises nutrition information, found either on a wall poster or nutrition pamphlets. The criteria for ‘accessing’ this nutritional information was pretty loose. A customer was considered to have ‘accessed’ the info if they 1) “approached the poster on the wall and turned their head toward it” or 2) “picked up a nutrition pamphlet”. That’s it; they didn’t have to actually read anything. Out of 4,311 customers who were observed at either location, only SIX (0.1%) accessed the info before making their purchases.
If we don’t know what we’re putting in our bodies we simply cannot become healthier. When it comes to our food intake, unlike some other areas in life, ignorance is not bliss.