Women who read the labels on food packages are, on average, thinner than those who don't, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An international team of scientists analyzed figures in the CDC's National Health Interview Survey, a continuous survey on the lifestyle habits of Americans, and found some 25,000 observations related to health, eating and shopping.
They found 74% of female consumers habitually or always check nutritional information, and that on average they had a body mass index 1.48 points lower, translating to about 8 lbs. less for an average woman.
The impact was much less dramatic on men: 58% of them said they pay attention to food labels and their average body mass index was lower by .12 points.
The fact that smokers are much less apt to read labels didn't surprise the researchers because "their lifestyle involves less healthy habits and, as a consequence, it could be the case that they are not so worried about the nutritional content of the food they eat."
The study, published in the journal Agricultural Economics, was conducted by scientists from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the Universities of Tennessee and Arkansas, and the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural Finance Research.