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Guiding healthier food choice: systematic comparison of four front-of-pack labelling systems and their effect on judgements of product healthiness

  • Charo E. Hodgkins (a1), Monique M. Raats (a1), Chris Fife-Schaw (a1), Matthew Peacock (a1), Andrea Gröppel-Klein (a2), Joerg Koenigstorfer (a2), Grazyna Wasowicz (a3), Malgorzata Stysko-Kunkowska (a3), Yaprak Gulcan (a4), Yesim Kustepeli (a4), Michelle Gibbs (a5), Richard Shepherd (a1) and Klaus G. Grunert (a6)...

Abstract

Different front-of-pack (FOP) labelling systems have been developed in Europe by industry and organisations concerned with health promotion. A study (n 2068) was performed to establish the extent to which inclusion of the most prevalent FOP systems – guideline daily amounts (GDA), traffic lights (TL), GDA+TL hybrid (HYB) and health logos (HL) – impact consumer perceptions of healthiness over and above the provision of a FOP basic label (BL) containing numerical nutritional information alone. The design included within- and between-subjects factors. The within-subjects factors were: food (pizzas, yogurts and biscuits), healthiness of the food (high health, medium health and low health) and the repeated measurements under BL and test FOP label conditions. The between-subjects factors were: the system (GDA, TL, GDA+TL hybrid, HL), portion size (typical portion size and a 50 % reduction of a typical portion) and country (the UK, Germany, Poland and Turkey). Although the FOP systems tested did result in small improvements for objective understanding under some conditions, there was little difference between the provision of an FOP label containing basic numerical nutritional information alone or between the various systems. Thus, any structured and legible presentation of key nutrient and energy information on the FOP label is sufficient to enable consumers to detect a healthier alternative within a food category when provided with foods that have distinctly different levels of healthiness. Future research should focus on developing greater understanding of the psychological and contextual factors that impact motivation and the opportunity to use the various FOP systems in real-world shopping settings.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: C. E. Hodgkins, email c.hodgkins@surrey.ac.uk

References

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