Changing labels helps in decision making

Two changes to nutrition labels could make the nutrient content information easier to understand: 1) information in two columns that list the nutrition facts for a single serving and the total package, and 2) listing the nutrition facts for the entire container.

Amy M. Lando, MPP, and Serena C. Lo, PhD, of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, MD, conducted an online study with more than 9,000 participants to measure how accurately consumers used modified versions of nutrition labels to assess their perceptions of how reliable and useful the label is.

According to Dr. Land, “FDA commissioned this experimental study to examine whether different ways of presenting serving size and nutrition information can help consumers. Specifically, we are interested in studying “products that have two servings per container, which are consumed at one time .”

Research participants evaluated nine modified nutrition labels and the current label format on four fictitious products (two frozen dinners and two bags of potato chips).

The labels are classified into three groups. The first group of labels used a single-column format to display product information with two servings per container, the second group used versions of the double-column format to display product information with two servings per container, and the third group used single-column formats that stated product content as one large, one portion.

The research team also tested whether formatting changes, such as increasing the font size in the “Calorie” statement, deleting information about the number of calories from fat, or changing the text in the serving size statement, would help consumers determine calories and other nutrient information for one portion and for the whole package.

The study’s researchers found that participants were able to more accurately estimate the number of calories or the amount of fat or other nutrients per serving and in the entire package when using one large serving format, per container, or in a single serving format. double column.

“This research is just one step in understanding how some changes to food labels could help consumers make better decisions. Ideally, we’d like to see how these labels behave in a more realistic environment, such as a grocery store, with packaged goods food, as opposed to large text on a computer screen,” concluded Dr. Lo.

“Nutrition labeling is just one tool that can help consumers make informed decisions about food and maintain a healthy diet, but it’s a valuable tool, so it’s important to continue to explore ways to support the effective use of nutrition labels for these purposes,” he said. concluded.

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