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Effectiveness of Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labels in French Adults: Results from the NutriNet-Santé Cohort Study.

Ducrot P, Méjean C, Julia C, Kesse-Guyot E, Touvier M, Fezeu L, Hercberg S, Péneau S - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: We aimed to compare the effectiveness of the label formats currently in use: nutrient-specific, graded and simple summary systems, in a large sample of adults.Differences among the label effectiveness were compared with chi-square tests.All FOP labels were found to be effective in ranking products according to their nutritional quality compared with the "no label" situation, although they showed differing levels of effectiveness (p<0.0001).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université Paris 13, Equipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Statistiques, Inserm (U1153), Inra (U1125), Cnam, COMUE Sorbonne Paris Cité, Bobigny, France.

ABSTRACT

Background: To date, no consensus has emerged on the most appropriate front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition label to help consumers in making informed choices. We aimed to compare the effectiveness of the label formats currently in use: nutrient-specific, graded and simple summary systems, in a large sample of adults.

Methods: The FOP label effectiveness was assessed by measuring the label acceptability and understanding among 13,578 participants of the NutriNet-Santé cohort study, representative of the French adult population. Participants were exposed to five conditions, including four FOP labels: Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA), Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL), 5-Color Nutrition Label (5-CNL), Green Tick (Tick), and a "no label" condition. Acceptability was evaluated by several indicators: attractiveness, liking and perceived cognitive workload. Objective understanding was assessed by the percentage of correct answers when ranking three products according to their nutritional quality. Five different product categories were tested: prepared fish dishes, pizzas, dairy products, breakfast cereals, and appetizers. Differences among the label effectiveness were compared with chi-square tests.

Results: The 5-CNL was viewed as the easiest label to identify and as the one requiring the lowest amount of effort and time to understand. GDA was considered as the least easy to identify and to understand, despite being the most attractive and liked label. All FOP labels were found to be effective in ranking products according to their nutritional quality compared with the "no label" situation, although they showed differing levels of effectiveness (p<0.0001). Globally, the 5-CNL performed best, followed by MTL, GDA and Tick labels.

Conclusions: The graded 5-CNL label was considered as easy to identify, simple and rapid to understand; it performed well when comparing the products' nutritional quality. Therefore, it is likely to present advantages in real shopping situations where choices are usually made quickly.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Nutrition labels used in the study.
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pone.0140898.g001: Nutrition labels used in the study.

Mentions: Helping consumers to make healthier food choices is considered as a key lever of public health policies to improve nutritional status of individuals and prevent chronic diseases [1]. To achieve this, one proposed tool is introducing a simplified nutrition labeling system on the front of each food package, providing simplified information on nutritional content at a glance, along with back-of-pack detailed energy and nutrient content information. This measure is considered useful to enlighten consumers on the nutritional quality of foodstuffs at the time of purchase and has been proven to be effective to identify healthier food products [2–8]. Moreover, this measure is considered as a successful way to promote the improvement of the foods’ nutritional values by the industry [9,10]. Currently, the front-of-pack (FOP) labeling systems can be divided into nutrient-specific and summary labels [3,11–21] (see examples in Fig 1). Nutrient-specific labels display nutritional information on several nutrients, such as the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and the Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL) [22,23]. Summary labels provide information about the overall nutritional quality of the product and are generally based on nutrient profiling systems. Summary labels are divided into simple formats such as the Keyhole symbol displayed on “healthier” products and graded formats such as Guiding stars, which display a ranking of zero to three stars [24,25]. To date, no single format has emerged as the most effective in guiding consumers to healthier food choices [5,14]. Some studies have shown that the MTL label was effective in the general population when comparing products in terms of their healthfulness [4,11,12]. In turn, other investigations have suggested that in specific population subgroups, such as those with low formal education, simpler FOP formats performed better than more complex systems [5,6,14,18]. Previous studies have concluded that in order to be effective for everyone, the system has to be simple, clearly visible, recognizable and rapidly comprehensible [5,14,18].


Effectiveness of Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labels in French Adults: Results from the NutriNet-Santé Cohort Study.

Ducrot P, Méjean C, Julia C, Kesse-Guyot E, Touvier M, Fezeu L, Hercberg S, Péneau S - PLoS ONE (2015)

Nutrition labels used in the study.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4624978&req=5

pone.0140898.g001: Nutrition labels used in the study.
Mentions: Helping consumers to make healthier food choices is considered as a key lever of public health policies to improve nutritional status of individuals and prevent chronic diseases [1]. To achieve this, one proposed tool is introducing a simplified nutrition labeling system on the front of each food package, providing simplified information on nutritional content at a glance, along with back-of-pack detailed energy and nutrient content information. This measure is considered useful to enlighten consumers on the nutritional quality of foodstuffs at the time of purchase and has been proven to be effective to identify healthier food products [2–8]. Moreover, this measure is considered as a successful way to promote the improvement of the foods’ nutritional values by the industry [9,10]. Currently, the front-of-pack (FOP) labeling systems can be divided into nutrient-specific and summary labels [3,11–21] (see examples in Fig 1). Nutrient-specific labels display nutritional information on several nutrients, such as the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and the Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL) [22,23]. Summary labels provide information about the overall nutritional quality of the product and are generally based on nutrient profiling systems. Summary labels are divided into simple formats such as the Keyhole symbol displayed on “healthier” products and graded formats such as Guiding stars, which display a ranking of zero to three stars [24,25]. To date, no single format has emerged as the most effective in guiding consumers to healthier food choices [5,14]. Some studies have shown that the MTL label was effective in the general population when comparing products in terms of their healthfulness [4,11,12]. In turn, other investigations have suggested that in specific population subgroups, such as those with low formal education, simpler FOP formats performed better than more complex systems [5,6,14,18]. Previous studies have concluded that in order to be effective for everyone, the system has to be simple, clearly visible, recognizable and rapidly comprehensible [5,14,18].

Bottom Line: We aimed to compare the effectiveness of the label formats currently in use: nutrient-specific, graded and simple summary systems, in a large sample of adults.Differences among the label effectiveness were compared with chi-square tests.All FOP labels were found to be effective in ranking products according to their nutritional quality compared with the "no label" situation, although they showed differing levels of effectiveness (p<0.0001).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université Paris 13, Equipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Statistiques, Inserm (U1153), Inra (U1125), Cnam, COMUE Sorbonne Paris Cité, Bobigny, France.

ABSTRACT

Background: To date, no consensus has emerged on the most appropriate front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition label to help consumers in making informed choices. We aimed to compare the effectiveness of the label formats currently in use: nutrient-specific, graded and simple summary systems, in a large sample of adults.

Methods: The FOP label effectiveness was assessed by measuring the label acceptability and understanding among 13,578 participants of the NutriNet-Santé cohort study, representative of the French adult population. Participants were exposed to five conditions, including four FOP labels: Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA), Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL), 5-Color Nutrition Label (5-CNL), Green Tick (Tick), and a "no label" condition. Acceptability was evaluated by several indicators: attractiveness, liking and perceived cognitive workload. Objective understanding was assessed by the percentage of correct answers when ranking three products according to their nutritional quality. Five different product categories were tested: prepared fish dishes, pizzas, dairy products, breakfast cereals, and appetizers. Differences among the label effectiveness were compared with chi-square tests.

Results: The 5-CNL was viewed as the easiest label to identify and as the one requiring the lowest amount of effort and time to understand. GDA was considered as the least easy to identify and to understand, despite being the most attractive and liked label. All FOP labels were found to be effective in ranking products according to their nutritional quality compared with the "no label" situation, although they showed differing levels of effectiveness (p<0.0001). Globally, the 5-CNL performed best, followed by MTL, GDA and Tick labels.

Conclusions: The graded 5-CNL label was considered as easy to identify, simple and rapid to understand; it performed well when comparing the products' nutritional quality. Therefore, it is likely to present advantages in real shopping situations where choices are usually made quickly.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus