Nutrient content claims, which characterize the level of a nutrient in a food (e.g., “low-sugar”), are a commonly used marketing tactic. The association between claims, the nutritional quality of products, and consumer purchases is unknown. This study examined low-content nutrient claims on more than 80 million packaged food and beverage purchases from a transaction-level database of 40,000 U.S. households from 2008 to 2012. It found that 13 percent of food and 35 percent of beverage purchases in 2012 had a low-content claim. Low/no-fat claims were most prevalent for both, followed by low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-sodium claims. The proportion of purchases with any nutrient claim did not change significantly between 2008 and 2012. Products with the highest prevalence of nutrient claims in 2012 were fruits among food purchases (36.6%) and dairy-based drinks among beverage purchases (71.1%). Packaged food purchases with any nutrient claim had lower mean energy, sugar, fat, and sodium density relative to purchases with no nutrient claim. They did not, however, necessarily have better nutritional profiles or the lowest mean levels for that nutrient compared to products without claims. These findings suggest that low-content claims can mean different things for different products, which can make it difficult for consumers to know whether products are truly low in a given nutrient, or just relative to other products.
No Fat, No Sugar, No Salt…No Problem? Prevalence of “Low-Content” Nutrient Claims and Their Associations with the Nutritional Profile of Food and Beverage Purchases in the United States
Deal or No Deal? The Prevalence and Nutritional Quality of Price Promotions Among U.S. Food and Beverage Purchases
This study examines trends in the prevalence of price promotions among packaged food and beverage purchases, differences in prevalence by household race/ethnicity or income, and the association between price promotions and the nutritional profile of purchases. The cross-sectional study uses a dataset of 90 million purchases from 38,744 (2008) to … More
Analyzing the Associations between Price Promotions and Health Claims on the Nutrient Profile of Food Purchases
Despite substantial literature on how to improve the food environment for children, there has been little work examining how price promotions, nutrient-related claims, and their interactions might be associated with the nutrient profile of food purchases, particularly for lower-income and racial/ethnic minority populations. This study will address these gaps using … More
Digital Food and Beverage Marketing Environments in a National Sample of Middle Schools: Implications for Policy and Practice
One promising approach to influence nutrition behavior is to limit food and beverage marketing to children. Children are a lucrative market and schools may be an effective setting in which to intervene. Studies have shown that marketing in schools is prevalent but little is known about digital marketing to students … More