For years, government experts have been advising consumers to read food labels in order to track and curb their calorie intake. Now a new study
conducted by Tufts University
researchers has found that some commercially prepared foods actually contain almost 20% more calories than posted on the label. The study findings appeared in the January
issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The goal of the study was to
examine the accuracy of the stated energy content of foods typically
selected for weight loss and sold both in stores and restaurant chains (fast-food as well as sit-down establishments) across the United States. The researchers found that the energy
intakes of the 29 restaurant foods measured averaged 18% more calories than posted, while the values
of the 10 frozen meals measured
averaged 8% more than those listed on the label.

The study authors noted that “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows up to 20% excess energy content but weight must be no less than 99% of the stated value. This might lead manufacturers to add more food to the package to insure compliance with the weight standards and thereby exceed the stated energy content.”