You are what you eat -- as long as you know what you’re eating

A new study suggests that women who read the labels on their food product are likely to be slimmer.

In the same week that McDonalds announced it would be adding calorie to menus across America, the habits of more than 25,000 shoppers were profiled by researchers examining the relationship between reading food labels and obesity.

The international study indicated consumers who paid attention to dietary information were nine pounds lighter that those who ignored labels.

Some 25,640 observations were collected on health, eating and shopping habits.

More great shopping habits...

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  • The Inner Aisles

    Grocery stores are designed in such a way to have the essential ingredients such as dairy and produce on <a href="http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/2289-top-20-ways-to-save-money-at-the-grocery-store" target="_hplink">opposite ends of the store</a>. This forces most shoppers to pass through all the aisles, often times picking up items they don't need. Try to skip the middle of the store and stick to only the items you need.

  • Brand Names

    You might be used to a particular brand of cereal or sugar, but the generic options are usually cheaper. The grocery store brands often use name-brand products with their own labels on it; and they offer it at a better price. Just check the ingredients to be sure you are getting the same product.

  • Toiletries

    While buying toiletries at the supermarket may be easy, you're paying a price for that convenience. Save those items for the pharmacy, where they are usually cheaper.

  • Middle Shelves

    Since we tend to look at items that are at our eye level, grocery stores know to place the <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cheap/331Ways/DailyLife/groceries.asp " target="_hplink">more expensive items on the shelves we see first</a>. When shopping, look at the higher and lower shelves for cheaper items.

  • Pre-Packaged Foods

    Don't buy the pre-made foods such as potato salad at the store, when you can purchase the ingredients and make it for a fraction of the price at home. And it'll taste much better fresh too.

  • Shopping With Children

    While sometimes we can't avoid shopping with children, it's best to try to buy your groceries when they're not around. Children will often want to buy food items that you don't need, and it isn't always easy to say no.

  • Pre-Grated Cheese

    Just like with pre-packaged lettuce and pre-cut fruit, grated cheese costs you extra for the convenience it brings you. But it's not that hard to grate your own cheese. With a less expensive block of cheese, and a cheap box grater, you can start saving money on this ingredient.

  • Shopping When Hungry

    Many of us go to the grocery store after work and before dinner, which is when we start to get hungry. If you buy your groceries when hungry, you'll <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-willpower/201107/the-neurobiology-dont-shop-when-youre-hungry" target="_hplink">purchase more than you need</a>. Try to get the shopping out of the way on the weekends, when you can shop on a full stomach.

  • Unit Price

    Almost all supermarkets list the unit price of their items. It's wise to look at these as they make it easy to see which brand really gives you the best deal for your money. This way you can avoid being fooled by overly packaged items with little inside.

  • The Offender: Pre-Packaged Salad

    Yes, it's convenient to have your lettuce in already-clean-and-trimmed plastic tubs, but it also costs nearly three times the price. If you buy your own head of lettuce, wash and trim it right away, and have it ready to use, you won't even notice the difference (and you'll save quite a few bucks a month).

  • No Shopping List

    You might have an incredible memory, making it able to remember everything you need from the supermarket without having to write it down (an admirable and uncommon skill). And while writing a shopping list does help many of us remember what we need to get, more importantly, it keeps us from buying the things we don't need (if we stick to our list).

  • Canned Beans

    Many people opt for canned beans because they're too intimidated to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/susies-beans_n_1062584.html" target="_hplink">cook their own</a>. But making a good pot of beans is really easy. So fear it no longer, and start saving some money by buying the bags of dried beans instead of cans. While the difference in price is not enough to break the bank, these little changes will add up.

  • Pre-Cut Fruit

    If someone is getting paid to do a job that you could easily do yourself at home (like cutting up a mango) you're going to be paying for it.

  • Out-Of-Season Produce

    You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: eat the produce that's in season. Not only will it taste infinitely better, but it will save you serious money. Because it costs them less to produce fruit and veggies that are local and in season, it costs less for you to buy it.

  • Bottled Water

    Bottled water is a multi-million pound industry, and it's coming out of your pocket.

  • Spice Mixes

    Fancy spice mixes can be a biggest waste of money since you can make your own spice mix with seasonings you most likely already have on hand (a large portion of most of the mixes being salt).

  • The Offender: Fresh Herbs

    You're literally throwing money away by not starting your own herb garden. Fresh herbs cost a small fortune at the grocery store. Often times you can buy an entire plant for less than you can a few sprigs at the supermarket. And while not everyone has space for a garden, most people can fit at least a few pots somewhere in their home.

  • Exotic Spices

    While experimenting with your cooking is a good idea, it's not always wise to buy those spices at your local grocery store. Taking the time to make a trip to an international market can save you a ton (almost 10 times in savings) on spices and specialty ingredients.

  • WATCH: How To Do Your Food Shopping

  • Microwaveable Popcorn

    This item is a major culprit of wasting your money. Sometimes you can pay almost double the price just for the convenience of having individual microwaveable bags. But what you're really doing is paying more for inferior popcorn. Save money, pop your own, and enjoy the real flavor of freshly popped corn.

These included various questions on whether participants read the nutritional information in supermarkets and how often.

"First we analysed which was the profile of those who read the nutritional label when purchasing foods, and then we moved on to the relationship with their weight," explained María Loureiro, lead author of the study published in the Agricultural Economics journal, in a statement.

"In general, the associated impact is higher amongst women than men," adds the researcher.

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On average, women who read the nutritional information have a body mass index of 1.48 points lower, whereas this difference is just 0.12 points in men.

“We have also seen that those who read food labels are those who live in urban areas, those with high school and high education," she concludes.