The Role of Differential Nutritional Labelling on Consumers’ Food Choices and Perceptions of Healthfulness
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
Currently, nutritional labelling is difficult to interpret and time-consuming to read. This is a major problem as many consumers are overweight and resort to eating readymade meals and snacks. These are likely to be energy-dense food and beverages that are high in fat, sugar and artificial preservatives. Simplifying nutritional labels could help stem rising obesity rates. Front-of-pack labels are a tool to help overcome this problem by providing consumers with understandable, visible information to aid them into making healthier food choices. This study expands on past research by evaluating 7 separate pre-existing, proposed and fictitious front-of-pack nutritional labels. It includes Information, Image or a combination of both Information and Image based labels. Plus No label, which is a control variable to determine the effectiveness of each label. The nutritional labels were placed on a chicken salad sandwich which was kept consistent for all 14 manipulations. The nutritional components were altered to reflect either an Unhealthy or Healthy sandwich. The design of this experiment is a 2 (nutritional level: Healthy, Unhealthy) X7 (labelling system: Traffic Light, Star, Running, Walking, Third Party, Daily Intake, Caloric, None) between subjects design. The results provide evidence of the urgent need to communicate nutritional information more effectively. Images, simplicity, colour and reliability, are determining label elements that influence consumption behaviour. The results from this study help to understand behaviours associated to labels. This study draws differences between those who partake in health behaviours and those who do not. This information could help to trigger support for a new, more effective front-of-pack labelling system to be put in place globally to guide consumers in making healthier food choices.