Unfortunately the
typical American eats far too many calories which can lead to numerous health complications
down the road. In a very simplified statement, obesity results over time when
energy (calories) consumed exceeds energy depleted (Wyatt et al., 2006). The
over consumption of calories can lead to health risks such as obesity, high
blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and countless other
health problems.  It is so important for
people to understand how many calories are in the foods they are consuming
which can be easier said than done. There are currently apps and other tools to
use to calculate how many calories your meals or snacks entail which can be
useful for people who need to and want to become the healthiest version of
themselves. Data released by The Food and Agriculture Organization stated that,
“The United States topped the list as the biggest eaters, according to calorie
intake data” (USDA, 2008). Americans on average are consuming over 3,600
calories a day, which is much higher than the U.S. Department of Agriculture
recommends (USDA, 2008). It is so important for people who are obese or overweight
to understand how many calories they are consuming to get to a healthier
lifestyle. A study found, regarding overweight and obese adults who were
participating in a 14 week weight loss program who monitored daily energy
intake and expenditure of calories lost nearly four times the weight as
individuals who were not self-monitoring their calorie intake and expenditure
(Carels, Young, Coit, Clayton, Spencer & Hobbs, 2008). Thus, it is so
important for people who are interested in losing weight to regularly
self-monitor their calorie intake. Although many people understand that it is
important to track and monitor the amount of calories they are consuming to
lose weight, many don’t accurately report the amount of calories they are
consuming. A study done by Lichtman and Colleagues (1992), looked at the
discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake in 224 obese
participants. The study found that, the participants misreporting of food
intake and physical activity accounted for their failure to lose weight
(Lichtman et al., 1992). Many people do not know how many calories they are
consuming in a meal which plays a large role in their inability to successfully
lose the weight they need to become a healthier person. Another study also
assessed consumers understanding of caloric knowledge as well as whether an
intervention could increase knowledge regarding daily recommendations for the
amount of calories consumed (Abel et al., 2014). The intervention used in the
study was a randomized email or text that the participants received on four
consecutive Mondays that included the recommended daily caloric intake which
the researchers concluded was helpful in aiding the increase of participants
understanding of nutrition and caloric education (Abel et al., 2014).

American’s been
increasingly dependent on convenience foods and eating out at restaurants which
has led to amount to an excess calorie consumption for many consumers. There
has been an increase in nutritional labeling on menus in many restaurants found
across the country which have been implemented to hopefully help consumers think
about the number of calories are in their favorite convenient snacks or
favorite meals and determine whether they are making a healthy choice. A study
that researched the impact of nutritional labeling on menus and consumer’s food
choices found “menu labeling is a viable option when the nutritional
information is presented in a visually salient way” (Reale & Flint, 2016). Researchers
Reale and Flint, conducted a between subject design study that recorded
participants eye movement using a Tobii eye tracking software to determine whether
logos and color influenced the consumer’s choices when looking at the amount of
calories that were in the meals. The results found that in all three conditions
the most persuasive factor of food choice when the consumers were reading the
menu was sensory appeal (Reale & Flint, 2016). We unfortunately see
companies using marketing and sensory appeal outside of menus as it is found to
be an incredibly influential advertising tool in the grocery store for children
and parents alike when advertising unhealthy, high calorie and fatty foods.

As we can see
overall people do not have a clear understanding of how many calories are in
the foods they are consuming which is affecting our population’s health in a
very negative way. A healthy diet, an adequate amount of sleep and physical
activity are all important factors to having a healthy lifestyle. Multiple
studies have proven that people’s inability to correctly count calories has
caused them to gain weight or has caused them to be unable to lose the weight
they need to become a healthier person. It is important for us to research and
understand how we can help people have a better understanding on what they are
eating and how it is going to affect their body. There are tools such as apps
that include nutrition logs that are there to help people keep track of what
they are filling their bodies with. The purpose of this study is to better
understand the accuracy to which people can determine their calorie intake. 

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