Start Date: September 2011

ID #: CAS009

Organization: University of Arkansas

Project Lead: Elizabeth Howlett, PhD

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The provision of nutrition information on food packaging is one strategy to help consumers make food choices. The federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act enacted in 1990 requires that almost all packaged foods bear a Nutrition Facts panel which includes information such as serving size, calories, and certain nutrients. Despite the availability of this information, the prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically in recent decades. A variety of nutrition rating systems and symbols have been developed in recent years and now appear on the front of food packages, meant to make it easier for consumers to make healthful food choices. The purpose of this project was to test a new fact-based, evaluative system of calorie and nutrient information provision. The research team evaluated the consumer comprehension of the Nutrition Facts system as compared to other available front-of-package labeling systems, including the Nutrition Keys system launched in 2011 by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, as well as other systems developed by the Institute of Medicine and the food industry. Data were collected from participants via internet panels as well as in a retail laboratory setting, all of whom were adult consumers with children living in the household of the participant.

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