The Influence of the New US Nutrition Facts Label on Consumer Perceptions and Understanding of Added Sugars: A Randomized Controlled Experiment

Neha Khandpur, Eric B. Rimm, Alyssa J. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background and objectives: This study assessed the effects of the new Nutrition Facts label (NFL) compared with the current NFL on consumer purchase intentions and understanding of added sugars, and differences by educational attainment. Design: Randomized controlled online experiment. Participants/setting: Final study sample of 1,156 US adults, oversampling participants with low education. Intervention: All participants were exposed to a control condition (images of bread, 100% juice, yogurt, and canned fruit with no NFL) and then randomized to one of two label conditions: the current NFL with information on total sugars only or the new NFL with information on added sugars. Participants responded to the same set of questions in the control and the label conditions while viewing products that displayed one of the two NFLs. Main outcome measures: Differences in scores averaged across all products for understanding of added sugars (proportion of correctly answered multiple-choice questions) and purchase intentions (5-point Likert scale ranging from extremely likely to extremely unlikely). Statistical analyses performed: One-way analysis of variance was used to test for differences between NFLs. Results: Compared with the current NFL, participants in the new NFL arm had better understanding of added sugars content (P<0.01). Although no significant differences were seen for purchase intentions overall, there were differences for individual products. Participants in the new NFL arm were more likely to purchase the juice (P<0.01) and less likely to buy the bread (P<0.01) compared with participants in the current NFL arm. There were no differences by educational attainment. Conclusions: Participants were better able to locate and extract added sugars information when viewing the new NFL compared with the current NFL. The new NFL may increase intent to purchase products low in added sugars but high in refined carbohydrates—an unintended consequence that warrants further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume120
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Added sugars
  • Consumer behavior
  • Nutrition Facts labels
  • Randomized controlled experiment
  • Unintended consequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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