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Articulating health through food labelling: encouraging healthier choices

Peacock, M, Hodgkins, C, Shepherd, R and Raats, M (2011) Articulating health through food labelling: encouraging healthier choices In: 11th European Nutrition Conference (FENS), 2011-10-26 - 2011-10-29, Madrid, Spain.

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Introduction: Nutrition labelling is recognized as a key tool for combating this problem by providing consumers with information which promotes healthy eating. Objectives: To investigate the extent to which food labelling systems (FLS) encourage healthier choices. Method/Design: Laddering interviews with three groups (parents; 55+; teenagers) of 20 participants were carried out in the United Kingdom. The eight FLS studied varied in complexity (e.g. numerical, graphical and colour-based information), directiveness and benchmarking (nutrient- and product-level). Results: The relationship between gross amount of information presented and actual label use is mediated by the type of benchmarking used and by what participants think its level of directiveness implies about them. Participants suggested they could decrease the cognitive workload of an ostensibly complex FLS by initially engaging only with the traffic light colours. Participants were unlikely to engage with non-directive FLS without benchmarking because these were slow to use and difficult to understand, offering objective information but no tools for use; thus suggesting an erosion self-efficacy and decreased likelihood of use in future, particularly less experienced shoppers. Semi-directive FLS with nutrient-level benchmarking gave both information and tools for meaningful engagement, increasing self-efficacy and ability to use labels effectively. A product-level logo FLS sacrificed all else for speed and ease of use, reducing decisionmaking rather than empowering the making of informed choices. Conclusions: Future FLS designs need to consider the psychological as well as practical reasons why consumers choose to engage with some FLS and ignore others. In removing any obvious link between dietary recommendations and hard facts, overly simplified labels sacrifice flexibility, utility and persuasiveness on the assumption that ease and speed are all. By contextualising real information with colourful nutrient-level benchmarking an optimal FLS may encourage shoppers to make their own informed decisions, restoring that link and empowering them to take more interest in nutrition in the future.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Peacock, M
Hodgkins, C
Shepherd, R
Raats, M
Date : 2011
Uncontrolled Keywords : food labelling, consumer research, qualitative research
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 13:44
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 15:01

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