Consumer perceptions of the Nutrition Facts table and front-of-pack nutrition rating systems

Teri E. Emrich, Ying Qi, Julio E. Mendoza, Wendy Lou, Joanna E. Cohen, Mary R. L'Abbé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Preferences for, and consumer friendliness of, front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition rating systems have not been studied in a Canadian population, and studies comparing systems that are accompanied by mandatory labelling, such as Canada's Nutrition Facts table (NFt), are lacking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate 4 FOP systems relative to the NFt with respect to consumer friendliness and their influence on perceptions of the healthiness and nutrient content of food. Canadian consumers (n = 3029) participating in an online survey were randomized to score the consumer friendliness of 1 of 5 FOP conditions with or without an NFt and to score the healthiness and nutrient content of 2 foods using the provided label(s). The mean differences in scores were evaluated with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) controlling for age, gender, and education, with Tukey-Kramer adjustments for multiple comparisons. The NFt received the highest scores of consumer friendliness with respect to liking, helpfulness, credibility, and influence on purchase decisions (p < 0.05); however, consumers still supported the implementation of a single, standardized FOP system, with the nutrient-specific systems (a "Traffic Light" and a Nutrition Facts FOP system) being preferred and scored as more consumer friendly than the summary indicator systems. Without the NFt, consumer ratings of the healthiness and calorie and nutrient content differed by FOP system. With the NFt present, consumers rated the healthiness and calorie and nutrient content similarly, except for those who saw the Traffic Light; their ratings were influenced by the Traffic Light's colours. The introduction of a single, standard, nutrient-specific FOP system to supplement the mandatory NFt should be considered by Canadian policy makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-424
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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Keywords

  • Front-of-pack nutrition rating systems and symbols
  • Nutrition labelling
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)

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