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Posted ContentDOI

Factors affecting use and understanding of nutrition information on food labels: evidences from consumers

01 Jul 2012-Agricultural Economics Review (Greek Association of Agricultural Economists)-Vol. 13, Iss: 2, pp 103-116
TL;DR: Factors affecting use and understanding of nutrition information on food labels in Italy are explored to provide useful guidance in the implementation of new nutrition labelling and suggest the need to focus mainly on education campaigns and several indications for developers and marketers.
Abstract: In the past few years, Europe has experienced an increase in several chronic diseases linked to dietary and lifestyle factors. In particular obesity is increasing at an alarming rate all over Europe, while warnings about it have intensified. As result nutrition-related measures are ranking as first in the agenda of the EU political priorities. Particularly at the end of 2011 the EU introduced new rules on food labeling requirement by inserting a nutritional declaration. In this context the proposed paper aims to explore factors affecting use and understanding of nutrition information on food labels in Italy to provide useful guidance in the implementation of new nutrition labelling. The study presents some results of a direct survey on a sample of 400 consumers and provides a market segmentation identifying different profiles of consumers, through the use of PCA and Cluster Analysis. The results obtained from this analysis suggest the need to focus mainly on education campaigns and providing several indications for developers and marketers as well as government bodies that are interested in designing consumer communication strategies and effective health programs.Keywords: Food labelling; health; nutrition; consumer behaviour; cluster analysis.IntroductionIn the past few years, Europe has experienced an increase in several chronic diseases linked to dietary and lifestyle factors. In particular obesity is increasing at an alarming rate all over Europe, while warnings about it have intensified. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), from 1990 to 2006, obesity levels in Europe tripled on the whole.There is robust evidence that dietary factors are related to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes (Astrup, 2001; FAO/WHO 2003; Kromhout, Menotti, Kesteloot, & Sans, 2002).To prevent and mitigate the prevalence of such illnesses, policies that have an impact on the type of food produced and may influence the types and quantities of foods consumed by Europeans may be helpful and pertinent (Gracia et al, 2003). In this context the nutritional information on food labels are an indispensable tool to help consumers make informed choices aware and healthy, providing them essential information that otherwise could not find.Despite the importance of the problems related to nutrition and food habits involving the European population, only at the end of last year the EU has reviewed the general rules on food labeling by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers which provides new requirements aimed at improving the level of information and protection for European consumers provide the obligation to include a nutritional declaration on the labelling of foodstuffs3. From 13 December 2016, Regulation (EU) No 1 169/201 1 will make nutrition labelling obligatory, whether or not the foodstuff carries nutrition or health claims4. This regulation is the result of a long process of revision of the basic rules on nutrition labeling started more than ten years ago, during which the Commission launched two public consultations, in 2003 and 2006, and impact assessments5 which have led in the January 2008 the Commission to adopt a proposal for a Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers to update and revise the Community legislation on general food labelling and nutrition labelling.Nutritional labelling has received considerable attention in the literature due to increasing consumer interest in health and diet issues. Food labels are a source of information and most often the first means for directly connecting with a consumer however its potential is not always well exploited. Labels may be an instrument for reinforcing generic claims and for establishing product differentiation, differentiation across food categories and within a specific category (Caswell and Mojduszka. …

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: From reviewing 60 intervention studies, food labeling reduces consumer dietary intake of selected nutrients and influences industry practices to reduce product contents of sodium and artificial trans fat.

190 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is suggested that increasing nutrition knowledge and understandable and legible food labeling can increase the likelihood of food label usage.
Abstract: Food labeling is found to be a very important public health tool aimed at providing consumers with information which may influence their purchasing decisions. This study has aimed to assess the consumers' behaviors about the important information on the labels and their reasons for use or non-use. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted as point of purchase survey among 2123 shoppers in chain stores in Teharn, Iran, during 2008-2009. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire which contained 4 sections measuring respondents’ background, knowledge, perception, and behaviors about information on food labels. Results showed that 82.8 % of consumers look at food label information when purchasing food products. Younger adults (aged 20-40 years), female, married, employees and holders of a diploma and higher, individuals with higher level of knowledge, and those in the group categories of monthly income higher 6 million rials were significantly more likely to use food labels. Most of the respondents (29.3%) found small print on food labels to be the main reason for not reading food labels information, followed by no interest (26.3%), do not believe (12.6%), do not understand (7.1%). Our study suggests that increasing nutrition knowledge and understandable and legible food labeling can increase the likelihood of food label usage.

26 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors investigated how consumers use and understand nutrition information on food labels in their daily lives, using a survey (1127 Portuguese consumers) and four food labels.
Abstract: This paper investigates how consumers use and understand nutrition information on food labels in their daily lives. Primary data were collected from a survey (1127 Portuguese consumers) and four fo...

7 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The main dietary changes that students experience after starting university are understood to determine the personal and objective factors that hinder healthy eating, and possible strategies to facilitate healthier diets among university students are defined.
Abstract: Introduction The years spent at university are critical in terms of altering people's dietary patterns. This study aimed to: (1) understand the main dietary changes that students experience after starting university; (2) determine the personal and objective factors that hinder healthy eating, and (3) define possible strategies to facilitate healthier diets among university students. Methods The nominal group technique (NGT) was used to elicit ideas from 39 students from the University of Parma, Italy. The sample comprised 16 freshmen and 23 non-freshmen. Participants prioritized and weighed their top five ideas regarding dietary changes, barriers to healthy eating, and possible strategies to maintain a healthy diet. A thematic analysis was conducted to compare the priorities across groups. Results Forty-three themes were elected as the most significant changes related to diet, 39 themes related to personal barriers, 43 themes related to objective barriers, and 55 themes related to strategies. A lack of time for cooking, low financial availability, consumption of unvaried food or junk food, and gaining knowledge about food were identified as the main changes. Personal barriers to eating healthy were intrinsic (i.e., lack of willpower, personal gluttony, and little effort in cooking preparation), poor dietary information, and a busy lifestyle. Market and financial factors (i.e., the high price of healthy products and low financial availability), as well as social factors (i.e., the negative influence of social networks, childhood food education, and origin/tradition), emerged as objective barriers. Possible strategies that could encourage students to adopt a healthy diet include varying the food products offered in university canteens, including organizing spaces where students who prepare meals from home can warm up and eat their food. Student discounts at supermarkets and information on nutrition and a healthy diet were also identified as important ways of supporting students. Conclusion and Implication for Practice In order to make students part of the solution, the NGT provided them with the opportunity to equally contribute their ideas and opinions about having a healthy diet in a university context. This could potentially lead to tailor-made solutions for policymakers, educators, and foodservice providers in promoting healthy eating habits.

4 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Healthy habits acquired from childhood will last for a lifetime, more effective nutrition education programs and nutrition label reading education programs should be designed.
Abstract: Purpose This study aims to determine the effects of nutrition knowledge on the use of nutrition facts labels in emerging adults by defining the nutrition education status. Design/methodology/approach For this cross-sectional study, 919 young adults, aged 18–24 years, were recruited. Participants trained by dietetic professional at least 2 h per week during the period of at least one education period were considered as having nutrition education. Food label use, specific circumstances and different food products were recorded. The participants were also asked about their attitudes regarding food label use with a questionnaire including 15 products. Findings Nutrition facts label is mainly used when buying a product for the first time, a product of an unknown brand or comparing different companies’ similar products, regardless of nutrition education status. Participants with nutrition education had a higher nutrition facts label use and they use the score for specific food products including breakfast cereal (p = 0.003), snacks (p < 0.001), beverages (p = 0.004), ready to eat soups (p = 0.004) and diet products for special occasions (p < 0.001). Mean total score of attitudes regarding food label use for participants who had nutrition education was found as 58.9 ± 6.1 and who did not have nutrition education was found as 51.7 ± 9.2 (p < 0.01). Originality/value Nutrition education, which is related to the nutrition facts label use, would be especially useful in helping people for the selection of healthier foods. As habits acquired from childhood will last for a lifetime, more effective nutrition education programs and nutrition label reading education programs should be designed. The findings need to be considered for promoting nutrition facts label use by developing nutrition education.

4 citations

References
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Research conducted in 2003–2006 in the EU-15 countries on how consumers perceive, understand, like and use nutrition information on food labels is reviewed to provide new insights into consumer liking and understanding of simplified front of pack signposting formats.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to review research conducted in 2003–2006 in the EU-15 countries on how consumers perceive, understand, like and use nutrition information on food labels. Based on a search of databases on academic publications, Google-based search, and enquiries directed to a range of food retailers, food companies, consumer associations and government agencies, a total of 58 studies were identified. These studies were summarised using a standard format guided by a model of consumer information processing, and these summaries were subsequently processed using the MAXqda software in order to identify key findings and common themes across the studies. The studies show widespread consumer interest in nutrition information on food packages, though this interest varies across situations and products. Consumers like the idea of simplified front of pack information but differ in their liking for the various formats. Differences can be related to conflicting preferences for ease of use, being fully informed and not being pressurised into behaving in a particular way. Most consumers understand the most common signposting formats in the sense that they themselves believe that they understand them and they can replay key information presented to them in an experimental situation. There is, however, virtually no insight into how labelling information is, or will be, used in a real-world shopping situation, and how it will affect consumers’ dietary patterns. Results are largely in line with an earlier review by Cowburn and Stockley (Public Health Nutr 8:21–28, 2005), covering research up to 2002, but provide new insights into consumer liking and understanding of simplified front of pack signposting formats. There is an urgent need for more research studying consumer use of nutritional information on food labels in a real-world setting.

1,054 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Improvements in nutrition labelling could make a small but important contribution towards making the existing point-of-purchase environment more conducive to the selection of healthy choices.
Abstract: Objective To explore published and unpublished research into consumer understanding and use of nutrition labelling which is culturally applicable in Europe. Design A systematic review undertaken between July 2002 and February 2003. Results One hundred and three papers were identified that reported on consumer understanding or use of nutrition labelling, most originating from North America or northern Europe. Only a few studies (9%) were judged to be of high or medium-high quality. We found that reported use of nutrition labels is high but more objective measures suggest that actual use of nutrition labelling during food purchase may be much lower. Whether or not consumers can understand and use nutrition labelling depends on the purpose of the task. Available evidence suggests that consumers who do look at nutrition labels can understand some of the terms used but are confused by other types of information. Most appear able to retrieve simple information and make simple calculations and comparisons between products using numerical information, but their ability to interpret the nutrition label accurately reduces as the complexity of the task increases. The addition of interpretational aids like verbal descriptors and recommended reference values helps in product comparison and in putting products into a total diet context. Conclusions Improvements in nutrition labelling could make a small but important contribution towards making the existing point-of-purchase environment more conducive to the selection of healthy choices. In particular, interpretational aids can help consumers assess the nutrient contribution of specific foods to the overall diet.

808 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In the United States, the federal government is increasingly using requirements for informational labeling on food products to influence consumers' knowledge and purchasing patterns and manufacturers' product offerings and marketing practices.
Abstract: In the United States, the federal government is increasingly using requirements for informational labeling on food products to influence 1) consumers' knowledge and purchasing patterns and 2) manufacturers' product offerings and marketing practices. We discuss the economic rationale behind these regulations and issues related to judging their success or failure.

725 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: In the United States, the federal government is increasingly using requirements for informational labeling on food products to influence consumers' knowledge and purchasing patterns and manufacturers' product offerings and marketing practices as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: In the United States, the federal government is increasingly using requirements for informational labeling on food products to influence 1) consumers' knowledge and purchasing patterns and 2) manufacturers' product offerings and marketing practices. We discuss the economic rationale behind these regulations and issues related to judging their success or failure.

695 citations

Book
11 Sep 2012
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors trace the economic theory behind food labeling and present three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed and conclude that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information.
Abstract: Federal intervention in food labeling is often proposed with the aim of achieving a social goal such as improving human health and safety, mitigating environmental hazards, averting international trade disputes, or supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries Economic theory suggests, however, that mandatory food-labeling requirements are best suited to alleviating problems of asymmetric information and are rarely effective in redressing environmental or other spillovers associated with food production and consumption Theory also suggests that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information This report traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed

426 citations