Online Program

Front-of-package nutrition labels: Useful . . . and forgettable

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Dan Graham, PhD, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Megan Mueller, MPH, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Melanie Jaeb, RD MPH, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Lisa Harnack, Dr.P.H., R.D., M.P.H., Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Rachel Lucas-Thompson, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Introduction: It is unclear whether characteristics of Front-of-Package (FOP) nutrition labels are related to label recall and healthfulness of product selection. Methods: While wearing eye-tracking glasses to monitor visual attention, 64 Minnesotan parent/child pairs selected foods to take home from a laboratory-turned-grocery aisle. Pairs were randomly assigned to view products containing: 1) Multiple Traffic Light labels, which used numbers and colors to indicate quantity of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar; 2) monochromatic Nutrition Keys labels containing only the numeric information; or 3) no FOP labels. Within product category (e.g., cereals) levels of key nutrients-to-limit (e.g., sugar) was compared for chosen foods across condition using t-tests. Parents completed a survey indicating whether they had seen any labels while selecting products. ANOVA compared label recall by condition. Results: There was a significant overall condition effect on recall accuracy (p<.001): 74% of participants in the no-label condition correctly recalled not seeing FOP labels; <46% of participants who saw one of the two FOP label types correctly recalled seeing labels; only 17% of these correctly identified which label had appeared on their products. Participants randomly assigned to view either label selected cereals with significantly lower levels of sugar compared with no-label participants. This pattern was also evident for sodium in chips and fat in cookies. Discussion: FOP labeling appears to improve the healthfulness of food selections; however, current FOP label appearance may not be very memorable to consumers. Implications for future use of labels will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Compare various types of front-of-package nutrition labels Explain how eye-tracking can be used in nutrition labeling research

Keyword(s): Public Health Education and Health Promotion, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Minnesota Obesity Center, and The University of Minnesota's Obesity Prevention Center focusing on eye-tracking and nutrition information use. I have published multiple papers in this area in peer-reviewed journals.
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.