273608 Consumers' Reactions to Converting Percentage Daily Energy Intake into Equivalent Walking Time: Results from Qualitative and Quantitative Measures

Monday, October 29, 2012

Brennen Mills, BSc (Hons), BHSc , Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Owen Carter, BA , Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Advancement), Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Iain Pratt, BSc , Cancer Council WA, Cancer Council WA, Perth, Australia
In the battle against obesity, front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition food labels are touted as an important measure to empower people to consume less of such foods. However, the best way to display energy content remains a contentious issue. The voluntary industry standard in Australia is to display kilojoule content per average serving plus the recommended percentage daily intake of energy (PDI) this represents for an average adult (a 70 kg. male). The literature to date suggests that consumers find this information difficult to interpret. We sought to test the acceptance and usefulness of converting energy information into equivalent walking time (EWT) for the average adult. We conducted eight focus groups with Australian adults, followed by an online experiment with n=998 participants who viewed images of 30 foodstuffs labelled with EWT, plus a range of other labels such as PDI and multiple traffic lights (MTL) systems. Participants were asked to make assumptions about the healthiness of each foodstuff based upon each nutrition label. In focus groups, participants confirmed general confusion about PDI labels because of lack of interpretability. In comparison, EWT was popular due to instant comprehension. In the online experiment, participants were significantly less concerned about unhealthy foods labelled with PDI compared to EWT or MTL. Respondents found EWT far more comprehensible and useful than the PDI for discriminating between EDNP foods, even though both essentially contained the same nutrition information. To better empower consumers in their food choices, serious consideration should be given to translating energy content information into EWT.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the different formats of nutrition information provided on foods and beverages sold in Australia. 2. Draw parallels to the US food label environment. 3. Compare the benefits, limitations and differences between kilojoule (or calorie) content information and an 'equivalent walking time' conversion in the prevention of consuming fatty foods.

Keywords: Public Health Education and Health Promotion, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am co-investigator on the project grant funding this research. I am currently enrolled in a PhD in Public Health at Edith Cowan University. I have a number of obesity- and food science-related publications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.