Start Date: September 2011

ID #: 69295

Principal Investigator: Lisa Harnack, DrPH, MPH, RD

Co-Principal Investigator: Daniel Graham, PhD

Organization: University of Minnesota

Funding Round: Round 6

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This study assesses front-of-package nutrition labeling using novel technology (eye tracking) in a population at risk for obesity (urban, lower-income, racial and ethnic minority). Eye tracking allows objective comparison of use of monochromatic Nutrition Keys labels (soon to be added to food packages by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, but currently unevaluated) and color-coded traffic light labels by parent/child pairs making food choices in a simulated grocery setting. This study uses random assignment and a 2 (label design: traffic light, Nutrition Keys) x 2 (educational materials: present, absent) plus control group (no-label, no signage) design to create five groups of 50 parent/child pairs. Parent/child pairs will complete a food choice task in a simulated grocery aisle (i.e., while wearing eye-tracking glasses, they will select 6 foods to take home). Study outcomes to be evaluated include label viewing, label comprehension and healthfulness of food items selected. Results from this study will help policy-makers decide whether changing from Nutrition Keys to color-coded labels would benefit consumer health by revealing how each label type is viewed during food selection, whether label types are equally clear and informative, and whether either label leads to more healthful food purchases than no label. Through its evaluation of educational signage, findings from this study will also allow policy-makers and other stakeholders to see how such resources relate to label use and food choice.

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