Consumers’ (in)ability to estimate the energy content of unhealthy foods
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Aim: To assess consumers’ ability to estimate the energy content of fast foods purchased at a community event.Methods: Patrons (n = 179; 59 male, 120 female) attending the Perth Royal Show in Western Australia in October 2011 estimated the energy content of three popular Show foods—a regular serve of hot chips, a Dagwood Dog (battered sausage) and a can of regular soft drink. Respondents were shown images of the three products to ensure they understood the items in question. They were able to respond in the energy measure of their choice (kilojoules or calories). Age, gender and postcode data were collected.Results: Average estimates for the three products were very high, ranging from 72% overestimation for the hot chips to 203% overestimation for the soft drink. There were few significant differences in error rates by age, gender or socioeconomic status.Conclusions: The results suggest substantial knowledge deficits relating to the energy content of fast foods and indicate the need for community education about the nature of food energy and its relationship to healthy food choices.
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