Article

Is less always more? The effects of low-fat labeling and caloric information on food intake, calorie estimates, taste preference, and health attributions

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Abstract

The present study examined whether low-fat labeling and caloric information affect food intake, calorie estimates, taste preference, and health perceptions. Participants included 175 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions. A 2x2 between subjects factorial design was used in which the fat content label and caloric information of chocolate candy was manipulated. The differences in food intake across conditions did not reach statistical significance. However, participants significantly underestimated the calorie content of low-fat-labeled candy. Participants also rated low-fat-labeled candy as significantly better tasting when they had caloric information available. Participants endorsed more positive health attributions for low-fat-labeled candy than for regular-labeled candy, independent of caloric information. The inclusion of eating attitudes and behaviors as covariates did not alter the results. The study findings may be related to the "health halo" associated with low-fat foods and add to the research base by examining the interaction between low-fat and calorie labeling.

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... The product can be tested in blind, informed or expected conditions. In blind conditions, the consumer evaluates the intrinsic attributes (8)(9)(10)(11)(12)(13); in informed conditions, external information (nutritional information, packaging, health claims, etc.) is provided by means of sensory evaluation (14)(15)(16)(17)(18); and in expected conditions, a product is evaluated only on the basis of external information (19)(20)(21)(22). ...
... Studies that examined expected conditions alone (n=6) were conducted online (20,36,37), in the field (22) or in a laboratory (21,38). Only in one of the studies were product attributes evaluated in informed conditions alone (17). In general, the majority of researchers evaluated products in blind conditions, with 12 studies combining this with informed conditions. ...
... Product acceptability was measured most often (n=26) using different response scales (9-point hedonic scale, 100 mm scale, JAR). Researchers were also interested in the perception of healthiness during product tasting (15,17,31,(36)(37)(38) or only while observing the extrinsic attributes (20,37). Descriptive product properties were evaluated in seven studies (8,15,19,(39)(40)(41)(42) using CATA or (n=1) (23) Based on content, the following were excluded: (a) studies (n=29) that dealt with flavour substitutes (e.g. ...
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Introduction Reducing the salt, sugar and fat content of food is recognised worldwide as one of the strategies available for reducing the incidence of obesity and non-communicable diseases. The food industry has a major influence on achieving these goals by preserving intrinsic (chemical and sensory properties) and modifying extrinsic (food packaging and other external information) food attributes that can influence purchasing decisions. This article is a literature review of studies that analyse the influence of intrinsic and/or extrinsic attributes on consumer product preference and purchasing decisions. Methods A keyword search for relevant studies was conducted using Web of Science, an interdisciplinary electronic resource. Articles from other sources were also included and systematically reviewed. Results The search string identified 266 results. Thirty-eight articles were included in the final analysis and coded according to intrinsic and extrinsic food attributes, reformulated nutrient, food category, condition, research methods, consumer response, study location and sample size. There are several authors investigating the effect of intrinsic rather than extrinsic product attributes. Most research deals with processed foods in the category of milk and dairy products, followed by sweetened fruit juices, meat products, sweets and bread. Salt content is the attribute most often reduced, followed by sugar and fat. Conclusions Consumers find it hard to swap potential health benefits for hedonic attributes. When evaluating products in expected conditions, they usually rate the reformulated product more highly than the conventional one, while in informed conditions they usually choose the regular product. When products are labelled with a traffic light or nutritional warnings, consumers opt for a reformulated product, even in informed conditions. This review highlights the heterogeneity between food groups, and the fact that many factors influence consumers’ product preferences and purchasing decisions. The product should be analysed as a whole and tested in blind, expected and informed conditions, as each individual factor represents a phase of the consumer purchasing decision. The extent of nutrient reduction should be determined by calculating the difference threshold, and the industry should reformulate products gradually based on how consumers detect the reduction.
... Meanwhile tastiness represents an "experience" quality that can be assessed after consumption [9]. While evidence shows that nutritional or content-related information can be also important for taste judgments (e.g., fat and calorie information) [25], many studies, which found a link between the content information and taste expectations, do not provide numerical information, but rather labels and flavor descriptions. Other researchers, for example, used the claim "now reduced in salt, better taste" [26]. ...
... By contrast, it was reported that consumers perceived a bologna labeled as "light type Bologna, 10% fat" as less tasty than a "regular type Bologna, 20% fat" [27]. Others, on the other hand, found that a "low fat" label was associated with better taste, but only when numerical caloric information was simultaneously presented [25]. Importantly, these two studies [27,25] used a description together with the numerical information and not solely numerical information. ...
... Others, on the other hand, found that a "low fat" label was associated with better taste, but only when numerical caloric information was simultaneously presented [25]. Importantly, these two studies [27,25] used a description together with the numerical information and not solely numerical information. Indeed, verbal descriptions help consumers to activate cortical representations of a taste experience (for a review, see [28]). ...
Article
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Overconsumption of highly sugary foods contributes to increases in obesity and diabetes in our population, and initiatives are issued worldwide to reduce sugar content in food products. However, it is unclear how the presentation of reduced sugar content on food packages affects taste expectations of consumers. Based on the learned knowledge about negative health effects of sugar and the common belief that unhealthy food tastes better than healthy food, consumers might conclude that lower sugar levels are associated with higher healthiness and lower tastiness. Addressing this concern, we examined how quantitative information about sugar content without any verbal description influences consumers’ health and taste expectations of dairy desserts. We asked participants to indicate the expected healthiness and tastiness of randomly sampled dairy desserts, while varying systematically the quantitative sugar information provided in a label presented with the desserts (numerical sugar level in grams per 100 grams of product: low vs. original vs. high). We assumed that quantitative sugar content is not equally associated with healthiness and tastiness of products and that numerical information about sugar content informs health more than taste expectations. Therefore, we predicted that consumers expect higher healthiness, but not to the same degree lower tastiness for products with reduced sugar contented compared to products with higher sugar content. The results of the present study are in line with this hypothesis. We found that consumers expected desserts with less sugar to be healthier than desserts with higher levels of sugar. The experimentally varied sugar levels did not affect the tastiness expectations. Notably, consumers did not follow the unhealthy = tasty intuition and did not devaluate the tastiness of desserts because of heightened healthiness expectations. Our findings suggest that sole numerical information about sugar content—an important nutritional value—is more diagnostic in the construction of healthiness rather than tastiness expectations of food products.
... It describes which food category, and type of nutrition claim each study examined, and also indicates the outcome areas on which each study focused. Five studies were from the United States [37][38][39][40], one from Australia [31], and five from European countries, including two from Germany [32,33], two from the United Kingdom [35,36], and one from the Netherlands [34]. Eight studies analysed the influence of nutrition claims relating to fat [31,[34][35][36][38][39][40], two focused on nutrition claims relating to fat and sugar [32,33], and one on nutrition claims relating to fat as well as energy content [37]. ...
... Five studies were from the United States [37][38][39][40], one from Australia [31], and five from European countries, including two from Germany [32,33], two from the United Kingdom [35,36], and one from the Netherlands [34]. Eight studies analysed the influence of nutrition claims relating to fat [31,[34][35][36][38][39][40], two focused on nutrition claims relating to fat and sugar [32,33], and one on nutrition claims relating to fat as well as energy content [37]. The majority of studies were experimental. ...
... The majority of studies were experimental. The methodological quality of most studies was 'low' [32][33][34][35][36][38][39][40]. Only one study was of 'moderate' quality [37]. ...
Article
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Background: As part of efforts to address high levels of overweight and obesity, the provision of nutrition information (e.g., through nutrition labels and nutrition claims) on food packages has increasingly become an important policy option. This study aimed to assess the influence of nutrition claims relating to fat, sugar, and energy content on product packaging on several aspects of food choices to understand how they contribute to the prevention of overweight and obesity. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using the online databases EBSCOhost Global Health, EBSCOhost Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, PsycINFO and Embase. Studies were included if they measured the influence of nutrition claims relating to fat, sugar, and energy content on outcomes related to body weight, and were published between January 2003 and April 2018. Results: Eleven studies were included in the review. Results showed that nutrition claims can influence the knowledge of consumers with respect to perceived healthfulness of products, as well as expected and experienced tastiness of food products - making food products with nutrition claims seem healthier and less tasty. Nutrition claims can make the appropriate portion size appear to be larger and lead to an underestimation of the energy content of food products. Nutrition claims can also influence food purchase intentions, moderated by the perceived healthfulness of the relevant food products and the health consciousness of individuals. Nutrition claims were also found to have an impact on food purchases, to influence 'consumption guilt' (i.e., feeling of guilt associated with eating), and to increase consumption, moderated by the weight status of individuals. These influences were shown to vary depending on the type of claim and food carrying the claim. Conclusions: There is evidence that, while nutrition claims may lead some consumers to improve their nutrition knowledge and select healthier options, it may also lead consumers to increase food consumption and overall energy intake. This may run counter to efforts to address overweight and obesity.
... There has been an abundance of studies investigating the effects of incorporating nutritional information into food packaging on the food choices of various populations (6)(7)(8) and there is a growing body of evidence that not all ways of presenting nutritional information to the consumer have similarly desirable effects on food choices. For instance, simplified, front-of-pack, single-nutrient claims, particularly 'low-fat', could be hindering the general public from making healthier choices, as research has shown that it could lead to underestimation of total energy (9) . In most of these studies towards the relationship between nutrition information and behaviour, the available nutrition information itself is manipulated between the groups that are studied, rather than measured and compared within a particular group (10) . ...
... Moreover, we assume that there are factors other than motivation and intention at play in the complex behaviours relating to food choice. Earlier studies have shown that nutritional literacy (24,25) , potentially exposure to food retailers (26) and taste preferences (9,27) have a profound influence on food choice behaviour and hence health. We chose to focus on nutritional literacy as it has emerged as a key component in the promotion and maintenance of healthy dietary practices. ...
... We coded taste preferences as '1' when the unhealthy option was selected, '2' when no preference was indicated and '3' when a preference for the healthy option was indicated. The recorded values per choice were aggregated into a continuous variable ranging from a general taste preference for the unhealthy option (9), to a general taste preference for the healthy option (27). ...
Article
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Consumers intending to eat healthily should consult available information on the energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat content of foods. Some consumers, however, do this more than others do. The objective of this research was to identify distinct subgroups within the group of consumers who intend to eat healthily, segmented according to the timing and frequency of their use of information about energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat. Furthermore, we analysed whether consulting this information actually led to healthier food choices. Data on use of specific nutritional information in a computerised task in which participants made multiple dichotomous food choices (e.g. high-fat v. low-fat cheese) were recorded from 240 participants using process tracing software. Participants could view nutritional information by hovering the mouse over specific areas of the screen. We found three clusters of participants based on use of information about energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat: low, medium and high information users. There was a between-clusters difference in how often the healthy option was chosen (88·95 % with high information v. 67·17 % with low information usage). Presence in the medium and high information clusters was partially predicted by perceived self-efficacy in making healthy choices. It appears that some consumers are very confident of their ability to make healthy choices, which is a reason for making less use of nutritional information prior to making food choices and may result in unhealthy choices. Our findings improve understanding of the conditions needed to develop effective interventions targeted at health-conscious consumers.
... Four studies examined the association between health-related claims use (see Table 7 for examples of health-related claims) and diet (2 cross-sectional studies, using 24 h recalls, 2 RCTs) (Crockett, Jebb, Hankins, & Marteau, 2014;Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013;Kollannoor-Samuel et al., 2016;Ollberding et al., 2010). ...
... K. Anastasiou, et al. Appetite 138 (2019) 280-291 and non-users (Crockett et al., 2014;Ebneter et al., 2013). The observational study found an association between health-related claims use and lower fat, saturated fat and higher fibre intake, but not sugar, sodium, cholesterol or energy intake (Ollberding et al., 2010). ...
... However, there is limited evidence regarding whether the implementation of these government or industry-led schemes are effective in improving dietary intake. Two out of four studies on front-of-pack labels and diet found no significant results, indicating that front-of-pack label use may not always influence diet (Crockett et al., 2014;Ebneter et al., 2013;Roberto et al., 2012;Steenhuis et al., 2010). This is supported by a related study which found that front-of-pack labels do not influence purchasing behaviours (Sacks, Rayner, & Swinburn, 2009). ...
Article
Poor diet, resulting from high intake of ultra-processed packaged foods, is increasingly recognised as a key contributing factor to ill health. Food labels provide information on the nutritional content of packaged foods to consumers, which may influence consumption of nutrients such as energy, fat, saturated fat, trans-fats, sodium and added sugars. This review aims to summarise the current evidence for the association between use of food labels and dietary intake. The systematic search was conducted in August 2017 using six databases, with 6325 results. Twenty-six studies were included, including cross-sectional studies (n = 20), a cohort study (n = 1) and randomised controlled trials (n = 5). Studies were assessed using the American Dietetic Association Quality Criteria Checklist. Results were inconsistent in reporting a relationship between diet and food label use but indicated that reading the nutrition facts label is associated with healthier diets, measured by food frequency questionnaires and 24 h recalls. However, there is insufficient research on the association between dietary consumption and use of ingredients lists, serving size information and front-of-pack labels. Using health-related claims may be associated with poor diets, however evidence is inconclusive. Apart from health-related claims, using food labels is associated with healthier diets and should continue to be promoted through policies and education programs. Further research in this area is warranted to provide additional information on the impact of ingredients lists, serving sizes, front-of-pack labels and health-related claims on dietary intake.
... Product consumption Five comparisons from five included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to 'low fat' or equivalent labels on quantities of food or food energy consumed [24,26,36,[41][42][43]. Random effects metaanalysis of these outcome data, collected from a total of 680 participants, showed a summary effect size (SMD) of 0.27 (95% CI: −0.12 to 0.66, p = 0.17, I 2 = 83%), consistent with evidence for no effect of 'low fat' or equivalent SMD standardised mean difference, IV generic inverse variance, random Random effects model, 95% CI 95% confidence interval, a Summary effect size (pooled estimate), N/A not applicable labels on consumption (Fig. 3). ...
... Product appeal Ten comparisons identified from eight included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to eligible labels on product appeal. Useable outcome data were available for meta-analysis from eight independent comparisons, from seven RCTs [19,26,31,32,34,36,38,43]. Random effects meta-analysis of these outcome data (Fig. 5), collected from a total of 1013 participants, showed a summary effect size (SMD) of −0.01 (95% CI: −0.14 to 0.13, p = 0.93, I 2 = 14%), consistent with evidence for no effect of 'Low fat' or equivalent labels on appeal. ...
... Understanding of the label Five comparisons from four included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to eligible labels on participants' understanding of the Fig. 4 Funnel plot of comparison: food products -exposure to 'low fat' or equivalent labels versus exposure to 'higher fat' or equivalent labels or no equivalent labels; outcomeproduct consumption label [26,36,41,42]. Useable outcome data were available for meta-analysis from four independent comparisons from three of these RCTs [26,41,42]. ...
Article
BACKGROUND: Explicit labelling of lower strength alcohol products could reduce alcohol consumption by attracting more people to buy and drink such products instead of higher strength ones. Alternatively, it may lead to more consumption due to a 'self-licensing' mechanism. Equivalent labelling of food or tobacco (for example "Low fat" or "Low tar") could influence consumption of those products by similar mechanisms. This systematic review examined the effects of 'Low alcohol' and equivalent labelling of alcohol, food and tobacco products on selection, consumption, and perceptions of products among adults. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted based on Cochrane methods. Electronic and snowball searches identified 26 eligible studies. Evidence from 12 randomised controlled trials (all on food) was assessed for risk of bias, synthesised using random effects meta-analysis, and interpreted in conjunction with evidence from 14 non-randomised studies (one on alcohol, seven on food and six on tobacco). Outcomes assessed were: quantities of the product (i) selected or (ii) consumed (primary outcomes - behaviours), (iii) intentions to select or consume the product, (iv) beliefs associated with it consumption, (v) product appeal, and (vi) understanding of the label (secondary outcomes - cognitions). RESULTS: Evidence for impacts on the primary outcomes (i.e. amounts selected or consumed) was overall of very low quality, showing mixed effects, likely to vary by specific label descriptors, products and population characteristics. Overall very low quality evidence suggested that exposure to 'Low alcohol' and equivalent labelling on alcohol, food and tobacco products can shift consumer perceptions of products, with the potential to 'self-licence' excess consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Considerable uncertainty remains about the effects of labels denoting low alcohol, and equivalent labels, on alcohol, food and tobacco selection and consumption. Independent, high-quality studies are urgently needed to inform policies on labelling regulations.
... Product consumption Five comparisons from five included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to 'low fat' or equivalent labels on quantities of food or food energy consumed [24,26,36,[41][42][43]. Random effects metaanalysis of these outcome data, collected from a total of 680 participants, showed a summary effect size (SMD) of 0.27 (95% CI: −0.12 to 0.66, p = 0.17, I 2 = 83%), consistent with evidence for no effect of 'low fat' or equivalent SMD standardised mean difference, IV generic inverse variance, random Random effects model, 95% CI 95% confidence interval, a Summary effect size (pooled estimate), N/A not applicable labels on consumption (Fig. 3). ...
... Product appeal Ten comparisons identified from eight included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to eligible labels on product appeal. Useable outcome data were available for meta-analysis from eight independent comparisons, from seven RCTs [19,26,31,32,34,36,38,43]. Random effects meta-analysis of these outcome data (Fig. 5), collected from a total of 1013 participants, showed a summary effect size (SMD) of −0.01 (95% CI: −0.14 to 0.13, p = 0.93, I 2 = 14%), consistent with evidence for no effect of 'Low fat' or equivalent labels on appeal. ...
... Understanding of the label Five comparisons from four included RCTs assessed the effect of exposure to eligible labels on participants' understanding of the Fig. 4 Funnel plot of comparison: food products -exposure to 'low fat' or equivalent labels versus exposure to 'higher fat' or equivalent labels or no equivalent labels; outcomeproduct consumption label [26,36,41,42]. Useable outcome data were available for meta-analysis from four independent comparisons from three of these RCTs [26,41,42]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Explicit labelling of lower strength alcohol products could reduce alcohol consumption by attracting more people to buy and drink such products instead of higher strength ones. Alternatively, it may lead to more consumption due to a ‘self-licensing’ mechanism. Equivalent labelling of food or tobacco (for example “Low fat” or “Low tar”) could influence consumption of those products by similar mechanisms. This systematic review examined the effects of ‘Low alcohol’ and equivalent labelling of alcohol, food and tobacco products on selection, consumption, and perceptions of products among adults. Methods A systematic review was conducted based on Cochrane methods. Electronic and snowball searches identified 26 eligible studies. Evidence from 12 randomised controlled trials (all on food) was assessed for risk of bias, synthesised using random effects meta-analysis, and interpreted in conjunction with evidence from 14 non-randomised studies (one on alcohol, seven on food and six on tobacco). Outcomes assessed were: quantities of the product (i) selected or (ii) consumed (primary outcomes - behaviours), (iii) intentions to select or consume the product, (iv) beliefs associated with it consumption, (v) product appeal, and (vi) understanding of the label (secondary outcomes – cognitions). Results Evidence for impacts on the primary outcomes (i.e. amounts selected or consumed) was overall of very low quality, showing mixed effects, likely to vary by specific label descriptors, products and population characteristics. Overall very low quality evidence suggested that exposure to ‘Low alcohol’ and equivalent labelling on alcohol, food and tobacco products can shift consumer perceptions of products, with the potential to ‘self-licence’ excess consumption. Conclusions Considerable uncertainty remains about the effects of labels denoting low alcohol, and equivalent labels, on alcohol, food and tobacco selection and consumption. Independent, high-quality studies are urgently needed to inform policies on labelling regulations. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3956-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... Labels referencing food healthiness or fat-content were the subject of 16 studies. Seven studies identified that a low-fat/healthy label improved the taste or liking of cereal (Lapierre et al., 2011), candy (Irmak et al., 2011), milkshakes (Bowen et al., 2003), ice cream (Bowen et al., 1992), chocolate (Ebneter et al., 2013) or cookies (Soldavini et al., 2012), compared to when the same product was presented with a high-fat/unhealthy label. Without a measure of expectations to determine whether low-fat labels induced a positive expectation, the results of these studies could indicate sensation transfer or contrast. ...
... Eleven studies reported that the presence of label information changed the taste or liking of potato chips (Levis & Chambers, 1996), chocolate (Didier & Lucie, 2008;Ebneter et al., 2013), cookies (Cavanagh et al., 2014;Engell et al., 1998), ice cream (Parker & Penfield, 2005;Light et al., 1992), milk desserts (Vidal et al., 2013) and flavored milk (Kim et al., 2013;Shepherd et al., 1991/92). However, several reported that these effects were limited to, or differed across, different product samples (Didier & Lucie, 2008;Kim et al., 2013;Levis & Chambers, 1996;Parker & Penfield, 2005;Vidal et al., 2013), or were limited to particular sensory outcomes (Engell et al., 1998;Kim et al., 2013;Parker & Penfield, 2005). ...
... Additionally, many studies reported contradictory results. For instance, taste preference for chocolate was higher without a calorie label in Ebneter et al. (2013), though the flavor of cookies was rated lower without a calorie label compared to a low-calorie label (Cavanagh et al., 2014). Further, Kim, et al. (2013) found that organic milk was not rated differently in the presence or absence of an organic label, yet Didier and Lucie (2008) found that organic labeling improved ratings of chocolate relative to a blind condition and non-organic labeling decreased ratings of one product relative to a blind condition. ...
Article
Extrinsic information, such as packaging, branding and labeling, can significantly alter our experience of food and drink through a process of ‘sensation transfer’, in which extrinsic attributes are transferred to our sensory perception of a product. The aim of this review was to summarize the literature on sensation transfer for unhealthy food and drink and to investigate personal factors that may influence its occurrence. Seventy-eight studies in 69 articles, published between 1966 and 2014 were identified which evaluated sensation transfer. Sixty-five of the 78 studies found an effect of extrinsic information on taste and/or hedonic outcomes, providing strong evidence for sensation transfer. The majority of studies identified that specific extrinsic information influenced particular products or specific sensory outcomes. Study designs incorporating a measure of expectation allowed a tighter assessment of sensation transfer. The results of such studies confirm the hypothesis that these effects occur when extrinsic information elicits an expectation of product taste, which then forms a framework to guide sensory perception. These studies also support the hypothesis that where sensation transfer does not occur, this is likely due to a mismatch between the expectations elicited by the extrinsic information and the sensory characteristics being measured, or the failure of the extrinsic information to elicit an expectation of taste for that product.
... However, studies do not yet clearly support the efficacy of these food-labelling strategies in changing consumers' food choices and intake. Evidence suggests that nutrient-content claims could contribute to overeating (10,11) , particularly among overweight individuals (11,12) , or have no impact on energy intake (11)(12)(13)(14) . Energy posting may also be relatively ineffective in promoting healthier food choices (15) . ...
... In that regard, studies have shown that fat-related claims and energy posting can influence healthiness perception (34)(35)(36)(37)(38) , which can have an impact on consumers' food appreciation. When comparing the same food, whether labelled as low fat or regular, Ebneter et al. (13) observed that the regular version was rated as better tasting when participants were aware of the energy content. However, the opposite result was observed when the energy content was not presented. ...
... Bowen et al. (39) also reported a better appreciation of a milkshake labelled as low fat v. regular, whereas Roefs & Jansen (40) reported no difference in the palatability of the two food products. According to Ebneter et al. (13) , different types of nutritional labelling can have different impacts on perceptions, where a fat content label could be a more powerful determinant of the healthiness assessment than an energy content label. The associations between nutritional labelling, healthiness perception and food appreciation thus remain to be clarified. ...
Article
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of nutritional labelling on energy intake, appetite perceptions and attitudes towards food. During a 10-d period, seventy normal-weight (BMI<25 kg/m2) and seventy-one obese women (BMI≥30 kg/m2) were given three meals per d under ad libitum conditions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental labelling groups in which the only difference was the label posted on lunch meal entrée: (1) low-fat label, (2) energy label (energy content of the entrée and average daily needs) and (3) no label (control). Average energy intake was calculated by weighing all foods before v. after daily consumption. Hunger and fullness perceptions were rated on visual analogue scales immediately before and after each meal. Satiety efficiency was assessed through the calculation of the satiety quotient (SQ). The appreciation and perceived healthiness of the lunch entrées were rated on eight-point Likert scales. There was no difference in energy intake, SQ and attitudes towards food between the three labelling groups. Fasting hunger perception was higher in the low-fat label group compared with the two others groups (P=0·0037). No interactions between labelling groups and BMI categories were observed. In conclusion, although labelling does not seem to influence energy intake, a low-fat label may increase women’s fasting hunger perceptions compared with an energy label or no label.
... A wide variety of studies across psychological domains have demonstrated the effects of important symbolic features presented in visual images of commercial advertisements (for a review, see [1]). For example, labeling safety or nutrition information with a photograph of food products consistently alters impressions of the advertised products or brands [2][3][4][5][6][7][8]. Notably, marketing researchers [9] have reported misperception of symbolic terms that refer to a product characteristic (e.g., a "fruit" symbolizing healthiness), so that the symbolized meaning supersedes the product's negative characteristics (e.g., high-calorie content of fruit sugar). ...
... These patterns can be attributed to the temporal congruence between a past-focused label and a shop with a traditional concept, in accordance with previous reports that materials consistent with conceptual and perceptual orientation aided in relevant information processing [12,15]. However, given that the mere presentation of a label can alter consumers' impressions of food shops or their products in the absence of congruence between the label and to-be-rated material [2][3][4][5][6][7][8], it was possible that the patterns of our results might be related to the mere presence of past-focused information, rather than temporal congruence. We ruled out this possibility by performing Experiments 4 and 5. ...
Article
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This study examined whether the presence of product information focused on a past era (e.g., year of establishment) improved consumers’ evaluations of a shop serving traditional products when the label and shop were congruent in terms of temporal focus. Across five experiments, participants viewed and evaluated advertisements from traditional food restaurants and shops that showed an old year of establishment. They showed favorable evaluations of the restaurants and food shops more frequently when a label focused on the past was displayed than when the label was absent or when a label focused on the present was displayed. Subsequent experiments indicated that this labeling effect was strongest when the label and shop were consistent in terms of traditional culture such that the year of establishment on the label showed the Japanese era name (Japan’s traditional date format) and was accompanied by Japanese classic foods. Importantly, in this study, qualitative domains were consistently improved more often than were ratings of visit intention and expected taste. The results suggest that temporal congruence between the label and restaurants rated plays an essential role in ensuring that these advertisements are effective in improving positive evaluations.
... Results demonstrated higher liking for samples labeled as high-protein and low-fat, with an all-natural claim leading to the lowest level of liking. Our findings support those of previous market research suggesting that consumers prefer high protein in yogurt samples, as well as work showing low-fat samples were rated as better tasting [17,23,40,41]. This consistency supports the importance of labels in determining food preference, ...
... Results demonstrated higher liking for samples labeled as high-protein and low-fat, with an all-natural claim leading to the lowest level of liking. Our findings support those of previous market research suggesting that consumers prefer high protein in yogurt samples, as well as work showing low-fat samples were rated as better tasting [17,23,40,41]. ...
Article
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As competition on super market shelves is higher than ever, the importance of product concepts, communicated through labels, can dictate a product’s success or failure. However, it is possible for labels to affect a consumer’s experience, changing the overall response to the product. In this study, we tested samples of vanilla yogurt with one of four commonly used labeling concepts (high-protein, low-fat, made with stevia and all-natural) on sensory perception, consumer liking, expected consumption amount, and willingness to pay (WTP) in a consumer test (n = 108). Each participant evaluated five samples of the same vanilla yogurt identified with one of the labels, or an unlabeled control. Results showed panelists liked the samples labeled with low-fat and high-protein to the greatest degree, with all-natural scoring the lowest. Those more concerned with protein content found the samples less satiating, dependent on sex. Sweetness was also perceived more highly in younger panelists, with panelists WTP dependent on their liking of the labels. Results highlight the importance of labeling as an extrinsic cue affecting liking ratings, with potential ramification for ultimate product success. Understanding consumers’ response to labels, as well as their attitudes, has broad implications for food marketing, as well as public health and the study of eating habits.
... For example, upon considering an item labeled as "reduced fat" consumers often assume the product to be lower in calories (Collins & Loftus, 1975;Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013). Even the mere presence of healthy foods within a meal (e.g., burger and salad) can lead consumers to believe the meal as a whole is lower in calories (Chernev & Gal, 2010). ...
... Adolescents were specifically targeted for this research, as the food industry spends $1.8 billion annually marketing to this group (Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, 2018). While health claims (Ebneter et al., 2013), the presence of healthy foods (Chernev & Gal, 2010) and depictions of physical activity (Castonguay, 2019;Harris et al., 2018) have all been shown to bias health perceptions, it appears that character weight does as well, at least for certain individuals. In response to RQ1, this study revealed that character weight does in fact bias health perceptions such that a cereal is perceived healthier when promoted by a heavier character. ...
Article
Childhood obesity is a health epidemic. While we know that food advertising is impacting dietary perceptions of youth, we do not know all of the contributing factors. Health claims are used as heuristic cues, often misleading consumers to perceive foods as healthier than they otherwise would believe. This study investigates how the body weight of characters in advertising leads adolescents to perceive a cereal’s healthfulness and appeal. Findings suggest that higher BMI adolescents in particular believe a food to be healthier when promoted by a thin character. Conversely, females preferred heavier models, suggesting positive changes in regard to body image and stigmatization of those who are overweight. Potential explanations of these findings and avenues for further investigation are discussed.
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavor expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content (Ebneter et al., 2013;Engell et al., 1998;Kähkönen et al., 1999;Norton et al., 2013), salt content (Liem et al., 2012), health logo (Liem et al., 2012), cholesterol reducing (Kihlberg et al., 2005), and nutrition labels (Bayarri et al., 2010;Carrillo et al., 2012;Ebneter et al., 2013) could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. ...
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavor expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content (Ebneter et al., 2013;Engell et al., 1998;Kähkönen et al., 1999;Norton et al., 2013), salt content (Liem et al., 2012), health logo (Liem et al., 2012), cholesterol reducing (Kihlberg et al., 2005), and nutrition labels (Bayarri et al., 2010;Carrillo et al., 2012;Ebneter et al., 2013) could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. ...
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavour expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content (Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013;Engell, Bordi, Borja, Lambert, & Rolls, 1998;Kähkönen, Hakanpää, & Tuorila, 1999;Norton et al., 2013), salt content , health logo , cholesterol reducing (Kihlberg, Johansson, Langsrud, & Risvik, 2005) and nutrition labels (Bayarri, Carbonell, Barrios, & Costell, 2010;Ebneter et al., 2013) could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. ...
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavour expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content (Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013;Engell, Bordi, Borja, Lambert, & Rolls, 1998;Kähkönen, Hakanpää, & Tuorila, 1999;Norton et al., 2013), salt content , health logo , cholesterol reducing (Kihlberg, Johansson, Langsrud, & Risvik, 2005) and nutrition labels (Bayarri, Carbonell, Barrios, & Costell, 2010;Ebneter et al., 2013) could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. ...
Thesis
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Although scientists and industry apply sensory evaluation techniques to better understand and predict consumers’ product choice, 80 to 90% of new food products fail in the market. A possible explanation lies in the fact that consumers’ contribution in traditional sensory research is merely limited to the assessment of their overall liking on blind-labelled products performed in a controlled lab context. As a first step, this doctoral thesis examines the combination of emotional and sensory profiling by consumers for obtaining a better view on consumers’ food product experience. In order to facilitate such measurements, a new tool called the EmoSensory® Wheel has been developed and validated in this PhD. Secondly, three case studies were performed to study the impact of information and context on consumers’ food experience measured by this new tool. The first case study investigated the influence of health-related labels. The impact of content information (insect/vegetarian/meat) was examined in the second study. Lastly, the third case study explored the effect of brand information and context. The results illustrated the added value of including both emotional and sensory profiling tasks by consumers. Further, the case studies showed that the potential impact of the food stimuli presentation and context should be considered when setting up and interpreting results while conducting sensory research.
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavor expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content [8,[74][75][76], salt content [14], health logo [14], cholesterol reducing [77] and nutrition labels [76,78,79] could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. In the current study, the expected liking of any health label (light or reduced salt or light + reduced salt label) was significantly lower compared to the control label cheese. ...
... This study illustrated that health labels can influence consumers' flavor expectations of cheese. Several studies have found that health-related information like fat content [8,[74][75][76], salt content [14], health logo [14], cholesterol reducing [77] and nutrition labels [76,78,79] could alter consumers' expected acceptance of food products. In the current study, the expected liking of any health label (light or reduced salt or light + reduced salt label) was significantly lower compared to the control label cheese. ...
Article
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The global increase of cardiovascular diseases is linked to the shift towards unbalanced diets with increasing salt and fat intake. This has led to a growing consumers’ interest in more balanced food products, which explains the growing number of health-related claims on food products (e.g., “low in salt” or “light”). Based on a within-subjects design, consumers (n = 129) evaluated the same cheese product with different labels. Participants rated liking, saltiness and fat flavor intensity before and after consuming four labeled cheeses. Even though the cheese products were identical, inclusion of health labels influenced consumer perceptions. Cheese with a “light” label had a lower overall expected and perceived liking compared to regular cheese. Although cheese with a “salt reduced” label had a lower expected liking compared to regular cheese, no lower liking was found when consumers actually consumed the labeled cheese. All labels also influenced the perceived intensities of the attributes related to these labels, e.g., for example salt intensity for reduced salt label. While emotional profiles of the labeled cheeses differed before tasting, little differences were found when actual tasting these cheeses. In conclusion, this study shows that health-related labels might influence the perceived flavor and emotional profiles of cheese products.
... Messages can be tailored to participant reported preferences to help encourage or motivate behavior change. Acknowledging preference and incorporating tailoring into physical activity and nutrition interventions has helped to encourage physical activity engagement [48][49][50][51], increase preference of healthy foods [44,[52][53][54][55], and decrease preference for less healthy foods [56,57]. Acceptability and usability of liking surveys with evidenced based tailored messages has been demonstrated in promoting behavior change in children and adolescents [31,32]. ...
Article
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We aimed to test the feasibility of an online survey and tailored message program in young women. Recruited from college campuses, women (n = 189) completed an online survey assessing preference for and behaviors toward diet and physical activity as well as theory-based influencers of these behaviors (knowledge/information, motivation, and confidence). Health messages were tailored to the participant’s survey responses and learning style to address misconceptions and motivate or reinforce healthy physical activity and dietary behaviors. Most women reported the survey as relevant (92%) and useful for reflecting on their health (83%), with survey responses variable in level of nutrition and physical activity knowledge, motivation, and confidence. Each woman received four tailored messages—most reported the messages as relevant (80%) and learning new information (60%). Across all messages, nearly half of the participants (~48%) reported willingness to try or maintain healthier behaviors and confidence in their ability. Body size discrepancy and dietary restraint had small effects message responses of information learned, and the motivation and confidence in trying healthier behaviors. In summary, these data support the feasibility of this online tailored message program. The college women found the tailored message program acceptable and useful to motivate healthier behaviors. The findings provide direction for behaviorally focused interventions to improve dietary and physical activity behaviors.
... As an example, the messages implied in FOPL based on 100 g of food products that should be consumed in much lower quantities for each eating occasion can result in the same products being perceived by consumers as more unfavorable or more favorable than their real nutritional role within the overall diet. This aspect cannot be disregarded, since it has been shown that the use of nutrition claims which are recognized as particularly favorable by consumers can increase their perceived healthfulness (18) and promote their purchase and consumption, especially in overweight subjects (19), and that FOP labeling had significantly stronger influence than nutrition claims on consumers' perceptions (20). ...
Article
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The adoption of supplementary nutrition information, i.e., front-of-pack labeling (FOPL), on pre-packed food products is advocated as a tool to improve the consumers' knowledge of the nutrient content or the nutritional quality of foods, but also to drive products reformulation by the food industry. Ultimately, FOPL should help people to select foods in order to compose an overall balanced diet, which is essential for health. However, the extent to which the different FOPL systems proposed in the European Union (EU) (interpretative or informative) are effectively able to convey the information useful to improve both food choices and dietary habits of the consumers is still under debate and needs to be analyzed in detail. The use of 3 FOPL schemes proposed within the EU (Nutri-Score, Keyhole and NutrInform Battery) to compare products available on the Italian market within different food categories, highlights some critical issues: (1) different FOPL provide to consumers different kinds of information; (2) systems based on similar theoretical approaches can provide conflicting information; (3) the algorithms on which interpretative FOPL are based can give the same summary information for products differing in nutrient composition, impact on the overall dietary balance and therefore on the health of people with different characteristics, physiological/pathological conditions, and nutritional requirements; (4) on the other hand, products with similar nutrient composition can obtain different interpretative FOPL; (5) informative systems are generally more complex and require greater both attention and knowledge from the consumer; (6) FOPL based on 100 g of product overlook the role of portion (and frequency of consumption) in determining the nutrient intake without informing on the contribution of a single food to the overall diet; (7) FOPL based on scoring systems could promote the reformulation of selected products, especially with a composition very close to the threshold limits; (8) for the portion-based informative FOPL systems, the incentive for reformulation could essentially involve the reduction of portion size. Finally, the importance of nutritional education interventions, which are required to encourage the use by consumers of informative FOPL systems, cannot be neglected to improve the quality of diets regardless of the FOPL used.
... 25 This can lead to poor food choices and additionally, a healthy diet may be compromised. 26 It is possible that the 'health halo effect' itself has led to the exponential rise in consumers adhering to a GFD without any formal medical diagnosis. ...
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Background Over the past decade, the rise of consumers following a gluten-free diet has increased greatly. The majority of people following a gluten-free diet have not been diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten or wheat intolerance but believe it to be a health benefit. Aim To assess the differences between gluten-free and gluten-containing products with regards to the implications this might have on oral (and wider) health. Method In total, 50 purposively selected products (25 gluten-free and gluten-containing pairs) available to UK consumers, classified using the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey food categories, were analysed using content analysis of food packaging. The European Union front-of-pack labelling system revealed the nutritional composition of each product, focusing on carbohydrates, sugars and energy. Cost and use of emotive language to market products was also assessed. Results A nutritional comparison of the 25 product pairings found that, on average, all gluten-free products contained more calories, total carbohydrates and total sugar. The majority of the gluten-free products were classified as 'confectionary' or 'baked goods,' emphasising that products primarily consisted of foods high in sugar. The average sugar per 100 g for each category of food ranged from 2.5-37.0 g/100 g (gluten-free) compared to 2.1-30 g/100 g (gluten-containing). All gluten-free products were considerably more expensive when compared with the conventional version; the average price difference ranged from £0.08 to £4.40. Conclusion This study emphasises the 'health halo' phenomena, where foods for special diets are regarded by consumers as healthy when in fact they are not. This results partly from the products being mainly high-sugar 'treats', which are not a core of the UK Eatwell Guide food-based dietary guidelines. As many people consuming gluten-free products in the UK do not need them from a medical perspective, this could have implications for oral and wider health. It is important that members of the dental team are aware of the possible implications of a gluten-free diet where it is not medically indicated, coupled with reliance on convenience foods. Consumers selecting gluten-free products who have not been diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten or wheat intolerance, but erroneously believe gluten-free to be a health benefit, run the risk of consuming more energy and sugar by selecting gluten-free above gluten-containing products.Gluten-free manufacturers are using a 'health halo'; promoting foods using emotive words to market their products as 'good for you', despite high sugar and energy contents.It is important that members of the dental team are aware of the possible implications of a gluten-free diet where it is not medically indicated, coupled with reliance on convenience foods. Consumers selecting gluten-free products who have not been diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten or wheat intolerance, but erroneously believe gluten-free to be a health benefit, run the risk of consuming more energy and sugar by selecting gluten-free above gluten-containing products. Gluten-free manufacturers are using a 'health halo'; promoting foods using emotive words to market their products as 'good for you', despite high sugar and energy contents. It is important that members of the dental team are aware of the possible implications of a gluten-free diet where it is not medically indicated, coupled with reliance on convenience foods.
... Consumers are inclined to develop positive overall perceptions based on salient but unrelated label information (Ebneter et al., 2013). This tendency is often referred to as the halo effect (Nisbett and Wilson, 1977). ...
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Purpose This study puts forth a consumer-oriented concept of clean labels and attempts to empirically investigate consumer perceptions of these labels. Design/methodology/approach A self-administered survey ( n = 346) was used as the research instrument for data collection in the current study. Findings Results from an online survey indicate that consumers perceived less processed, elimination of undesired ingredients and ethical concerns as salient attributes associated with clean labels. Consumer-perceived benefits of these attributes include healthiness, social responsibility, sensory appeal, reliable product and low calorie. Additionally, canonical correlation analysis yields two significant associations between clean label attributes and the corresponding benefits. Attributes of elimination of undesired ingredients and utilization of familiar elements drive the benefits of healthiness, low calorie and social responsibility. Attributes of being less processed and with simple ingredients are associated with the benefit of sensory appeal. Originality/value This study systematically investigates the discrete clean halo effect by empirically examining the associations between the clean label attributes and the dimensionalities of benefits as perceived by consumers.
... This is in accordance with earlier studies, finding only small variations or no effect of NHCs on portion sizes (e.g. Benson et al., 2018;Crockett et al., 2014;Ebneter et al., 2013). The effects in this study were limited to health-neutral products, in which respondents in the positive claim condition tended to choose larger portions. ...
Article
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The impact of nutrition and health claims (NHCs) on consumers is unclear, and research in this field has provided incongruent results. By exploring the role of carrier products and claim types together with consumer characteristics this study sought to shed light on some of these contradictory results. Based on 1494 participants in an online choice experiment and portion-size experiment, the results revealed that the impact of NHCs on consumers is dependent on product and claim type, as well as consumer characteristics of perceived reward, compensatory beliefs, health motivation, subjective nutritional knowledge and weight-goals. In general, the choice of products carrying a claim was related to an increased perceived healthiness, health interest in food and a sense of reward associated with NHCs, but negatively related to subjective nutritional knowledge. Especially products perceived unhealthy with reduction claims were related to compensatory beliefs about being able to eat more of the claimed product. However, while compensatory beliefs seemed to have a small but consistent role in resulting in higher portion sizes, NHCs only played a minor role at best in portion-size decisions. Overall, the results suggest that consumer perceptions of types of claims and products need to be verified case-by-case, but some commonalities seem to exist when categorizing products according to their perceived healthiness and type of claims. Furthermore, consumers who are concerned about weight or are high in compensatory beliefs may be especially responsive to nutrition claims, while nutritional knowledge may act as a barrier against potential health halos associated with claims.
... Consumers may reduce calorie evaluations when they encounter product attributes that are seen as being correlated with low calories [52]. For example, low fat nutrition labels can lead to reduced calorie evaluations [53]. More generally, consumers underestimate calories in foods categorized as healthy [47,54,55]. ...
Article
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: Consumers’ calorie estimates are often biased and inaccurate. Even the presence of relevant nu-tritional information may not suffice to prevent consumer biases in calorie estimation. The cur-rent work demonstrates across two studies that visual cues given by larger product depictions lead to increased calorie estimates. Further, it demonstrates that these effects occur even when consumers are given, and notice, information about product quantity. The findings thus shed light on a novel biasing effect on consumer calorie evaluation, and, more generally, the findings provide evidence for the importance of visual inputs over textual ones in consumers’ nutritional assessment of food products. In this, the current research provides insights relevant to helping nutritional literacy via awareness of biasing influences on caloric assessment. In the same man-ner, the research also provides insights that may assist the regulator protecting consumers by highlighting factors biasing nutritional assessment.
... Thus, it is still unknown whether consumers use the fair trade label to make broader, more global health attributions. Indeed, there are circumstances in which health attributions and calorie estimations may be impacted differently (Ebneter et al., 2013). More importantly, their work also demonstrates an effect of social ethics descriptors on frequency of consumption (e.g., "Compared to other brands of chocolate, how often do you think that Petersen's chocolate should be eaten? 1 = less often, 7 = more often). ...
Article
The purpose of fair trade certification is to assure consumers that products support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fisherman, and protect the environment. Yet, could it be possible that consumers infer greater healthfulness of foods containing such labels, and subsequently increase their consumption of fair trade certified foods? Across three studies, we demonstrate that fair trade labels can increase consumption by 26% to 31%. In study 1, we demonstrate that individuals consume more if the food product contains a fair trade label. In the subsequent studies we home in on the underlying process, demonstrating that the effect is mediated by the product’s perceived healthfulness (study 2 and 3) To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that (1) tests the effects of fair trade labels from third party certifiers in package-based experiments, (2) examines the effects of fair trade labels on consumption, and (3) directly tests an overall health halo—perceived healthfulness—as the underlying process. In doing so, this research contributes to the values-based labeling and health halo literatures, while offering implications for public policy makers, consumers, and food marketers.
... It has been shown that people can accurately evaluate energy and macronutrients from food appearance, to a certain extent, although extrinsic factors (e.g. labels) bias caloric estimation (Roberto et al. 2010;Chandon and Wansink 2007;Ebneter, Latner, and Nigg 2013;Schuldt and Schwarz 2010). Previous research found that subjective estimation of calories from food images was significantly correlated with actual calorie content (Foroni et al. 2013;Charbonnier et al. 2016;Brunstrom et al. 2018). ...
Article
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Many food decisions are made rapidly and without reflective processing. The ability to determine nutritional information accurately is a precursor of food decisions and is important for a healthy diet and weight management. However, little is known about the cognitive evaluation of food attributes based on visual information in relation to assessing nutritional content. We investigated the accuracy of visual encoding of nutritional information after brief and extended time exposures to food images. The following questions were addressed: (1) how accurately do people estimate energy and macronutrients after brief exposure to food images, and (2) how does estimation accuracy change with time exposure and the type of nutritional information? Participants were first asked to rate the energy density (calories) and macronutrient content (carbohydrates/fat/protein) of different sets of food images under three time conditions (97, 500 or 1000 ms) and then asked to perform the task with no time constraints. We calculated estimation accuracy by computing the correlations between estimated and actual nutritional information for each time exposure and compared estimation accuracy with respect to the type of nutritional information and the exposure time. The estimated and actual energy densities and individual macronutrient content were significantly correlated, even after a brief exposure time (97 ms). The degree of accuracy of the estimations did not differ with additional time exposure, suggesting that <100 ms was sufficient to predict the energy and macronutrients from food images. Additionally, carbohydrate estimates were less accurate than the estimates of other nutritional variables (proteins, fat and calories), regardless of the exposure time. These results revealed rapid and accurate assessment of food attributes based on visual information and the accuracy of visual encoding of nutritional information after brief and extended time exposure to food imagery.
... It is equally important to note, however, that the overall nutrient values are still too high for most menu items, regardless of dietary label. Research has shown that people perceive foods with labels such as 'gluten-free', 'vegetarian', 'low-fat' or 'low-carb' as generally healthier and/or lower in energy (45)(46)(47)(48) , which is in line with the health halo effect of such labels (49) . But diners who order a small plate and main dish among alternative diet items can still consume up to 4184 kJ (1000 kcal) and over half of the daily recommended Na value in one meal, not including drinks and desserts. ...
Article
Objective To examine the prevalence and nutrient composition of menu offerings targeted to customers with dietary restrictions at U.S. fast casual and full-service chain restaurants. Design We used 2018 data from MenuStat, a database of nutrient information for menu items at large U.S. chain restaurants. Five alternative diets were examined: gluten-free, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, low-fat, and vegetarian. Diet offerings were identified by searching MenuStat item descriptions and reviewing online menus. For each diet, we reported counts and proportions. We used bootstrapped multilevel models to examine differences in predicted mean kilojoules, saturated fat, Na, and sugars between diet and non-diet menu items. Setting 45 U.S. fast casual and full-service chain restaurants in 2018 (including 6419 items in initial analytic sample across small plates, salads, and main dishes). Participants None. Results The most prevalent diets were gluten-free (n=631, 9.8% of menu items), low-calorie (n=306, 4.8%), and vegetarian (n=230, 3.6%). Compared to non-diet counterparts, low-calorie main dishes had significantly lower levels of all nutrients examined, and vegetarian main dishes had significantly lower levels of all nutrients except saturated fat. Gluten-free small plates had significantly fewer kilojoules, grams of saturated fat, and milligrams of Na compared to non-diet small plates. Conclusions A small proportion of fast casual and full-service restaurant menus are targeted toward customers with dietary restrictions. Compared to non-diet items, those classified as gluten-free, low-calorie, or vegetarian generally have healthier nutrient profiles, but overall nutrient values are still too high for most menu items, regardless of dietary label.
... Scholars have suggested that people will be more successful in controlling their food intake if relevant information is accessible and if they are conscious of the costs of consumption when making decisions (Trudel, Murray, Kim, & Chen, 2015). Different types of nutritional information could result in different perceptions; fat information may be a stronger determinant of the evaluation of the healthiness of a product than calorie information (Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013). ...
... Preliminary work from our group has shown that doing the PALS online is acceptable in children and parents, is reported to stimulate self-reflection on diet and activity behaviors, can generate immediate tailored feedback on diet quality and healthy behaviors [90]. Preferences can change, including in response to marketing of unhealthy foods [91] as well as with interventions to improve preference for healthy foods [92][93][94][95] and decrease preference for less healthy foods [83,96]. ...
Article
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Clinical settings need rapid yet useful methods to screen for diet and activity behaviors for brief interventions and to guide obesity prevention efforts. In an urban pediatric emergency department, these behaviors were screened in children and parents with the 33-item Pediatric-Adapted Liking Survey (PALS) to assess the reliability and validity of a Healthy Behavior Index (HBI) generated from the PALS responses. The PALS was completed by 925 children (average age = 11 ± 4 years, 55% publicly insured, 37% overweight/obese by Body Mass Index Percentile, BMI-P) and 925 parents. Child–parent dyads differed most in liking of vegetables, sweets, sweet drinks, and screen time. Across the sample, child and parent HBIs were variable, normally distributed with adequate internal reliability and construct validity, revealing two dimensions (less healthy—sweet drinks, sweets, sedentary behaviors; healthy—vegetables, fruits, proteins). The HBI showed criterion validity, detecting healthier indexes in parents vs. children, females vs. males, privately- vs. publicly-health insured, and residence in higher- vs. lower-income communities. Parent’s HBI explained some variability in child BMI percentile. Greater liking of sweets/carbohydrates partially mediated the association between low family income and higher BMI percentile. These findings support the utility of PALS as a dietary behavior and activity screener for children and their parents in a clinical setting.
... Using shortcuts based on contextual information for verbal more than numerical quantifiers thus has further implications on everyday food decisions. If verbal quantifiers increase people's tendency to judge unhealthy amounts of "good" food as healthy, this could lead to overconsumption of these foods (Ebneter et al., 2013;Gravel et al., 2012;Wansink & Chandon, 2006). Our findings suggest that numerical quantifiers are less susceptible to these contextual influences, but contrary to previous beliefs (Malam et al., 2009), they do not necessarily require more effort or time to process. ...
Article
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(Manuscript forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology; accepted, in press.) Verbal and numerical formats (e.g., verbal: ‘low fat’, or numerical: ‘20% fat’) are used interchangeably to communicate nutritional information. However, prior research implies that verbal quantifiers are processed more intuitively than numerical ones. We tested this hypothesis in two pre-registered experiments measuring four indicators of processing style: (i) response time, (ii) decision performance, (iii) reliance on irrelevant contextual information, which we inferred from participants’ decision patterns, and (iv) the level of interference from a concurrent memory task. Participants imagined they had consumed a given amount of a nutrient (represented in a pie chart) and decided whether a new quantity (either verbal or numerical) could be eaten within their guideline daily amount (GDA). The experiments used a mixed design varying format (verbal or numerical), concurrent memory load (no load, easy, and hard load in Experiment 1; no load and hard load in Experiment 2), nutrient (fat and minerals), quantity (low, medium, and high in Experiment 1; low and high in Experiment 2), and the assigned correct response for a trial (within and exceeding limits). Participants were faster and made fewer correct decisions with verbal quantifiers, and they relied more on contextual information (i.e., the identity of the nutrient involved). However, memory load did not impair decisions with verbal or numerical quantifiers. Altogether, these results suggest that verbal quantifiers are processed intuitively, slightly more so than numerical quantifiers, but that numerical quantifiers do not require much analytical processing to reach simple decisions.
... In addition, research has suggested that individuals underestimate the calorie-content of low-fat foods (Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013), and may enjoy eating these foods less than their equivalents that are not marketed as low-fat (Ng, Stice, Yokum, & Bohon, 2011), thus potentially amplifying dietary restriction. In this way, claims that foods are lower in calories or more healthy may influence individuals' food choices in ways that are paradoxically unhelpful, lead to increased restriction, cravings and loss-of-control eating (Schulte et al., 2015), and thereby increasing the risk of eating disorders. ...
Article
Policy and legislation have emerged as important levers for universal prevention efforts in the context of eating disorders. However, to date, little attention has been paid to generating research that will inform opportunities to regulate the food environment, specifically the way that food is produced and marketed. The present paper aims to lay out a framework for research that will examine (1) the ways in which food industry may influence risk for eating disorders and (2) the impact of legislative efforts on eating disorder cognitions and behaviors. For these two pathways, specific examples of research that would serve to inform policy efforts aiming to decrease the risk for eating disorders by targeting the food environment are proposed. Overall, the present paper aims to issue a call for the eating disorder field to become involved in food policy and regulation.
... Following previous methods e.g. [34,35], to ensure that observed differences were the result of the brand variant manipulation, 17 participants were excluded because they were deemed not to have been paying attention to the brand name manipulation (i.e. they could not remember the order in which they smoked the branded and masked cigarettes or could not remember the brand name of the cigarette that they were given in the branded condition). One further participant was excluded due to incomplete data. ...
Article
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Background: Few studies have experimentally assessed the contribution of branding to the experience of smoking a cigarette, compared with the inherent properties of the product. This study examined the influence of cigarette brand name on the sensory experience of smoking a cigarette. Methods: Seventy-five Australian smokers aged 18-39 years smoked two 'premium' cigarettes, one with the brand variant name shown and one with the brand variant name masked (which provided 'objective' ratings). Unknown to participants, the two cigarettes were identical. At recruitment, participants rated their expected enjoyment, quality and harshness of several premium cigarette brands. Results: Branded cigarettes were rated as having a significantly more favorable taste (M(SE) = 64.14(2.21)) than masked cigarettes (M(SE) = 58.53(2.26), p = .031). Branded cigarettes were also rated as being less stale (M(SE) = 36.04(2.62)) than masked cigarettes (M(SE) = 43.90(2.60), p = .011). Purchase intent tended to be higher among those shown the branded cigarette compared to the masked cigarette (χ2(1) = 3.00, p = .083). Expected enjoyment and quality of the brand variant (enjoyment: b = 0.31, 95%CI = 0.11, 0.51, p < .01; quality: b = 0.46, 95%CI = 0.21, 0.72, p < .01) contributed to the perceived smoking experience more than the objective enjoyment and quality of the cigarette (enjoyment: b = 0.23, 95%CI = 0.05, 0.41, p < .05; quality: b = 0.08, 95%CI = - 0.13, 0.30, p > .05). This pattern was not observed for cigarette harshness. Conclusions: A premium brand variant name can enhance the subjective experience of a cigarette. Further, smokers' expectations of such brand variants contribute to the smoking experience as much, if not more than, the actual qualities of the product.
... However, the bioavailability of fatsoluble vitamins should not be reduced or limited by the addition of low-fat alternatives. There are two types of lipids replacers with different chemical structures: carbohydrate-based and protein-based fat substitutes [Sahan et al. 2008, Martin et al. 2011, Ng et al. 2011, Ebneter et al. 2013. The aim of this study was to assess the positive and negative aspects of fat replacers (mainly plant replacers) and whether they have a place in the daily diet. ...
Article
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Carbohydrate and protein replacers of fat are frequently used by food manufacturers in response to the increased risk of diseases, which are connected with oversupply of energy and lipids in the diet. Low-calorie replacers such as inulin can limit hunger and normalize blood cholesterol levels. Increases in the nutritional value of food products can be achieved by partially replacing fat by soy protein isolates. Amino acids and deficient minerals like calcium and iron can be provided by food containing protein-based fat substitutes. Some fat substitutes, like maltodextrin, can slightly reduce the bioavailability of the fat-soluble vitamins. As a result, food products containing maltodextrin should be fortified with the affected substances to reduce the risk of malnutrition. The long-term effects of carbohydrate and protein replacers on the human body have not been sufficiently explained, and so fat replacers should be limited in the daily diet.
... Nutrition claims can also be misunderstood, which may lead to misleading inferences or unexpected eating behaviors. For example, a recent study showed that a low-fat-labeled candy was perceived healthier than a regularlabeled candy, independent of caloric information [14]. It is also recognized that low-fat claims can lead consumers to overconsumption [15]. ...
Article
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Nutrition claims may help people to adopt healthier eating habits, but little is known about the potential cognitive effects of such claims on appetite sensations. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of nutrition claims and individual factors on perceived appetite sensations. According to a three (“healthy” versus “diet” (i.e., satiating) versus “hedonic”) by two (restrained or not restrained) by two (normal-weight or overweight/obese) by two (men versus women) factorial design, 164 males and 188 females aged 18–65 were invited to taste an oatmeal-raisin snack in a blinded and ad libitum context. Visual analog scales (150 mm) were used to evaluate appetite sensations before and over 1 h after consumption period. BMI and Restraint Scale were used to categorize participants according to their weight and restraint status. No main condition effect was observed for any of the four appetite sensations. However, subgroups analysis revealed significant differences among specific subgroups. A main effect of sex was also observed for all appetite sensations with men reporting higher levels of desire to eat, hunger and prospective food consumption, and lower levels of fullness than women. These findings highlight the importance of considering individual characteristics in interaction when studying appetite sensations.
... While the proliferation of lower-fat alternatives might be beneficial for individuals who tend to make healthier food choices when given the opportunity to do so, experimental research unequivocally shows that these low-fat claims may actually backfire and increase the quantity and caloric value of single-occasion low-fat as well as regular food intake (Belei, Geyskens, Goukens, Ramanathan, & Lemmink, 2012;Geyskens, Pandelaere, Dewitte, & Warlop, 2007;Wansink & Chandon, 2006). This is mainly due to the fact that consumers tend to perceive these low-fat snacks as less dangerous to the long-term health goal (Andrews, Netemeyer, & Burton, 1998;Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013), and believe that they can indulge without implications on their health (Finkelstein & Fishbach, 2010;Fishbach & Dhar, 2005;Fishbach & Zhang, 2008;Wilcox, Vallen, Block, & Fitzsimons, 2009). Prior experimental research thus seems to point to an immediate "boomerang effect" of low-fat claims to the extent that they may actually increase a consumers' total snack consumption in terms of volume and calories. ...
Article
Health organizations stimulate the development of low-fat variants to fight the obesity epidemic. We examine the effectiveness of this policy by studying the short- and long-term consequences of the first low-fat purchase on subsequent purchased volume and calories. Using a structural break analysis, we show that purchases increase in the short run after the first low-fat purchase, thereby confirming the single-occasion overconsumption effect of low-fat as shown in the experimental literature. Importantly, our results also show a significant positive long-term effect, which suggests that overpurchasing persists in the long run. In addition, our findings show that the long-term overpurchasing after the first low-fat purchase is solely due to the overpurchasing of low-fat items and not of regular items. These results provide support for the overgeneralization of claim effects and habit formation resulting in the enduring effect of healthier variants of unhealthy food.
... The effects of subjective consumption cues were also demonstrated, suggesting that individuals tend to engage in overgeneralizations following claims about nutrient content (see Andrews, Netemeyer, & Burton, 1998). For example, a "low-fat" label can lead to the underestimation of calories, the overestimation of the appropriate serving size and to an increase in the actual consumption of the product (Ebneter, Latner, & Nigg, 2013;Wansink & Chandon, 2006). ...
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Organic claims can influence how a product is perceived in dimensions that are unrelated with the food production method (e.g., organic food is perceived as more healthful and less caloric than conventional food). Such claims can also bias how the consumers of organic food are perceived and how other people judge their behavior. Schuldt and Schwarz (2010) have shown that individuals evaluating a target with a weight-loss goal are more lenient in judging the target forgoing exercise when the target had an organic (vs. conventional) dessert. This impact of organic claims on leniency judgments has been interpreted either as a halo or a licensing effect. In the current research we aim to replicate and extend Schuldt and Schwarz's (2010) results by examining the mechanisms that are more likely to explain the observed leniency judgments. In Experiment 1, we observed that leniency towards a target that has consumed an organic meal is only observed when the target intentionally chooses such organic meal (vs. choice determined by the situation). These findings suggest that the impact of organic claims on leniency judgments is not merely based on a halo effect. Instead, a licensing account emerges as the most probable mechanism. In Experiment 2, we further found that stronger (vs. weaker) motives for forgoing exercise influenced leniency judgments to the same extent as having had an organic meal. Understanding the mechanisms that shape consumers’ decisions may have important implications to prevent bias in their judgments about food and exercise.
... low-fat label) can mislead consumers about other important nutritional elements, e.g., energy content and portion sizes (Faulkner et al., 2014). The 'health halo' effect can also lead to some undesired behavioral effects such as increased consumption and poor caloric estimates (Ebneter, Latner & Nigg, 2013). Marketers tap into the perceived healthfullness which reflects, besides the increased production cost of GF products, in the overall higher cost of GF products. ...
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Notwithstanding a growth in popularity and consumption of gluten-free (GF) food products, there is a lack of substantiated analysis of the nutritional quality compared with their gluten-containing counterparts. To put GF foods into proper perspective both for those who need it (patients with celiac disease) and for those who do not, we provide contemporary data about cost and nutritional quality of GF food products. The objective of this study is to develop a food composition database for seven discretionary food categories of packaged GF products. Nutrient composition, nutritional information and cost of foods from 63 GF and 126 gluten-containing counterparts were systematically obtained from 12 different Austrian supermarkets. The nutrition composition (macro and micronutrients) was analyzed by using two nutrient composition databases in a stepwise approximation process. A total of 63 packaged GF foods were included in the analysis representing a broad spectrum of different GF categories (flour/bake mix, bread and bakery products, pasta and cereal-based food, cereals, cookies and cakes, snacks and convenience food). Our results show that the protein content of GF products is >2 fold lower across 57% of all food categories. In 65% of all GF foods, low sodium content was observed (defined as <120 mg/100 g). Across all GF products, 19% can be classified as source high in fiber (defined as >6g/100 g). On average, GF foods were substantially higher in cost, ranging from +205% (cereals) to +267% (bread and bakery products) compared to similar gluten-containing products. In conclusion, our results indicate that for GF foods no predominant health benefits are indicated; in fact, some critical nutrients must be considered when being on a GF diet. For individuals with celiac disease, the GF database provides a helpful tool to identify the food composition of their medical diet. For healthy consumers, replacing gluten-containing products with GF foods is aligned with substantial cost differences but GF foods do not provide additional health benefits from a nutritional perspective.
Chapter
While hunger and micronutrient deficiencies remain a persistent problem affecting millions worldwide, obesity has also become a global epidemic. Despite an on-going debate regarding whether the substantial public expenditures on medical and health measures resulting from poor diets warrant policy interventions, the United States and Europe have seen a dramatic rise in policies designed to influence consumer diets over the last two decades. We provide a summary of the underlying arguments for addressing this issue via policy and complement this with a review of the existing literature on a variety of demand-side oriented policies, including nutritional labeling policies, fiscal policies, child-focused policies, and place-based policies. We point out how results are often contradictory and inconclusive partially due to the approach that was taken by the researcher in the analysis of the policy. This issue of robust findings leads us to a discussion of different data and methods typically used in economics to make inferences about the efficacy of policies. We follow-up on this by providing insights from the behavioral economics literature, which offers policy solutions that have the potential to complement more traditional policy designs. In a last step we provide an outlook and recommendations for future research directions.
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Purpose Past research has demonstrated a health halo for food product labels (e.g. organic), resulting in inflated perceptions of a product’s healthfulness (e.g. low fat). While past studies have focused on labeling and related health claims, the health halo of brand names has scarcely been investigated. This study aims to address this gap by investigating the health halo of brand names featuring morality- and purity-signifiers. Design/methodology/approach The current research uses two experiments to examine the health halo of morality- and purity-signifying brand names on perceptions of nutritional and contaminant attributes. Mediation analysis is performed to investigate perceived naturalness as the mechanism for the brand name effects while moderated mediation analysis examines this mechanism across product types (healthy vs unhealthy). Findings The findings reveal that both the morality- and purity-signifying brand names produce a health halo on nutritional and contaminant attributes, regardless of product healthiness. Further, mediation and moderated mediation analysis provide evidence for perceived naturalness as the underlying mechanism driving these effects. Social implications This research highlights unwarranted consumer inferences made based upon food brand names and, thus has implications for consumers, public policy and marketing managers. Originality/value While much health halo research has focused on labeling, this research examines the health halo of two brand name types which symbolically convey either morality or purity. This research provides additional contributions by investigating perceived naturalness as the underlying mechanism for the effects and is one of the few studies to investigate the health halo for both healthy and unhealthy products.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to assess the effect of involvement in food preparation on estimated calorie content, perception of portion size and desirability of the food item. Design/methodology/approach To test the hypotheses, three between-subjects experiments (one online, two in a laboratory setting) were conducted. Across the three experiments, participants were presented with a food item either ready for consumption (low involvement) or with the individual ingredients in need of assembly prior to consumption (high involvement). Findings Results showed that when a consumer is involved in the preparation of their food, they perceive the food to be lower in calories and smaller in portion size than when the same food is presented fully prepared and ready-to-eat. In addition, the effect of food preparation involvement on perception of portion size has negative downstream consequences on food desirability, as a smaller perceived portion resulted in a less desirable food item. Originality/value To the authors’ knowledge, the results of this research are the first to focus on the impact of preparation involvement on perceptions of the specific product attributes of calorie content and portion size, and the downstream effect on desirability.
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This research investigated inferences consumers make about restaurants that market their use of locally sourced food (LSF) ingredients using the halo effect as a theoretical foundation. Food produced and sold within a certain geographical radius (typically under 400 miles) is considered LSF. Hypothesized was that simply labelling a restaurant as using LSF would create a positive halo effect (a positive perceptual bias) and promote beliefs about the restaurant’s attributes that were unrelated to LSF. The results of an experiment with 313 participants suggest that LSF labeling in restaurants produces a positive halo effect. Participants assumed that a restaurant using LSF was more environmentally friendly, served a healthier/more nutritious menu, was more conveniently located, and was more likely to use natural/organic ingredients than was a similar restaurant that did not use LSF. Additionally, participants’ food-related lifestyles were significant moderators, with those most concerned about (1) the healthiness of the food they eat, and (2) the joy they get from eating and socializing over food, being most strongly influenced by the positive LSF-halo. Overall, the results indicate that restaurants may benefit from the positive glow created from the halo effect of sourcing food locally.
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Purpose This paper aims to investigate inferences consumers make about organic and all-natural labeled products in both food and non-food contexts using the health halo effect as a theoretical foundation. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses three experiments to test the effects of organic and all-natural labeling across three product types, food, personal hygiene and household cleaning, while controlling for environmental attitudes. Findings The results of the experiments in the context of food, personal hygiene and household cleaning products suggest that both organic and all-natural labeling produce halo effects. Distinct findings are presented across the three product types. Research limitations/implications Findings indicate that consumers may make unwarranted inferences about both organic and all-natural labeled products and demonstrates that the health halo effect is a potentially robust phenomenon, pervasive across a diverse array of products. This research used a crowdsourcing platform for sample recruitment. Future research should validate the results of these experiments with other sample types. Practical implications This research suggests that consumers may make similar unwarranted inferences for diverse products bearing organic and all-natural labels. These inferences are particularly intriguing given the differing regulatory requirements for the labels Originality/value Organic and all-natural labels are ubiquitous in both food and non-food products. However, research on either label primarily exists in a food context and has not directly compared the labels. Understanding the inferences consumers make based on the labels across product types is imperative for both marketing and public policy.
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Context: In recent decades, portion sizes have increased significantly. Although previous research indicates that food labels impact on product choice and healthiness perception, their impact on portion sizes consumed is less clear. Objective: This systematic review examined whether food label information influenced portion size consumption. Data sources: A search of 7 major electronic databases for studies published from 1980 to April 2016 was conducted. Data extraction: Two reviewers independently screened 11 128 abstracts. Data were extracted from 32 articles (comprising 36 studies). Results: Based on the test food used, the overall effects were found to be: no effect, a positive effect, or a negative effect. Labels displaying energy content (n = 15 studies, 17 effects) and fat content information (n = 13 studies, 14 effects) were evaluated most commonly, with exercise equivalent labels evaluated least (n = 2 studies, 2 effects). Conclusions: Nutrition and health information presented on food labels has varying impacts on portion sizes consumed, from increased to decreased intake. Recommendations for future research include evaluating more recent food label types and achieving more consistent reporting standards.
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Background: Nutritional labelling is advocated as a means to promote healthier food purchasing and consumption, including lower energy intake. Internationally, many different nutritional labelling schemes have been introduced. There is no consensus on whether such labelling is effective in promoting healthier behaviour. Objectives: To assess the impact of nutritional labelling for food and non-alcoholic drinks on purchasing and consumption of healthier items. Our secondary objective was to explore possible effect moderators of nutritional labelling on purchasing and consumption. Search methods: We searched 13 electronic databases including CENTRAL, MEDLINE and Embase to 26 April 2017. We also handsearched references and citations and sought unpublished studies through websites and trials registries. Selection criteria: Eligible studies: were randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials (RCTs/Q-RCTs), controlled before-and-after studies, or interrupted time series (ITS) studies; compared a labelled product (with information on nutrients or energy) with the same product without a nutritional label; assessed objectively measured purchasing or consumption of foods or non-alcoholic drinks in real-world or laboratory settings. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently selected studies for inclusion and extracted study data. We applied the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool and GRADE to assess the quality of evidence. We pooled studies that evaluated similar interventions and outcomes using a random-effects meta-analysis, and we synthesised data from other studies in a narrative summary. Main results: We included 28 studies, comprising 17 RCTs, 5 Q-RCTs and 6 ITS studies. Most (21/28) took place in the USA, and 19 took place in university settings, 14 of which mainly involved university students or staff. Most (20/28) studies assessed the impact of labelling on menus or menu boards, or nutritional labelling placed on, or adjacent to, a range of foods or drinks from which participants could choose. Eight studies provided participants with only one labelled food or drink option (in which labelling was present on a container or packaging, adjacent to the food or on a display board) and measured the amount consumed. The most frequently assessed labelling type was energy (i.e. calorie) information (12/28).Eleven studies assessed the impact of nutritional labelling on purchasing food or drink options in real-world settings, including purchases from vending machines (one cluster-RCT), grocery stores (one ITS), or restaurants, cafeterias or coffee shops (three RCTs, one Q-RCT and five ITS). Findings on vending machines and grocery stores were not interpretable, and were rated as very low quality. A meta-analysis of the three RCTs, all of which assessed energy labelling on menus in restaurants, demonstrated a statistically significant reduction of 47 kcal in energy purchased (MD -46.72 kcal, 95% CI -78.35, -15.10, N = 1877). Assuming an average meal of 600 kcal, energy labelling on menus would reduce energy purchased per meal by 7.8% (95% CI 2.5% to 13.1%). The quality of the evidence for these three studies was rated as low, so our confidence in the effect estimate is limited and may change with further studies. Of the remaining six studies, only two (both ITS studies involving energy labels on menus or menus boards in a coffee shop or cafeteria) were at low risk of bias, and their results support the meta-analysis. The results of the other four studies which were conducted in a restaurant, cafeterias (2 studies) or a coffee shop, were not clearly reported and were at high risk of bias.Seventeen studies assessed the impact of nutritional labels on consumption in artificial settings or scenarios (henceforth referred to as laboratory studies or settings). Of these, eight (all RCTs) assessed the effect of labels on menus or placed on a range of food options. A meta-analysis of these studies did not conclusively demonstrate a reduction in energy consumed during a meal (MD -50 kcal, 95% CI -104.41, 3.88, N = 1705). We rated the quality of the evidence as low, so our confidence in the effect estimate is limited and may change with further studies.Six laboratory studies (four RCTs and two Q-RCTs) assessed the impact of labelling a single food or drink option (such as chocolate, pasta or soft drinks) on energy consumed during a snack or meal. A meta-analysis of these studies did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in energy (kcal) consumed (SMD 0.05, 95% CI -0.17 to 0.27, N = 732). However, the confidence intervals were wide, suggesting uncertainty in the true effect size. We rated the quality of the evidence as low, so our confidence in the effect estimate is limited and may change with further studies.There was no evidence that nutritional labelling had the unintended harm of increasing energy purchased or consumed. Indirect evidence came from five laboratory studies that involved mislabelling single nutrient content (i.e. placing low energy or low fat labels on high-energy foods) during a snack or meal. A meta-analysis of these studies did not demonstrate a statistically significant increase in energy (kcal) consumed (SMD 0.19, 95% CI -0.14to 0.51, N = 718). The effect was small and the confidence intervals wide, suggesting uncertainty in the true effect size. We rated the quality of the evidence from these studies as very low, providing very little confidence in the effect estimate. Authors' conclusions: Findings from a small body of low-quality evidence suggest that nutritional labelling comprising energy information on menus may reduce energy purchased in restaurants. The evidence assessing the impact on consumption of energy information on menus or on a range of food options in laboratory settings suggests a similar effect to that observed for purchasing, although the evidence is less definite and also of low quality.Accordingly, and in the absence of observed harms, we tentatively suggest that nutritional labelling on menus in restaurants could be used as part of a wider set of measures to tackle obesity. Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions.Further high-quality research is also needed to address the dearth of evidence from grocery stores and vending machines and to assess potential moderators of the intervention effect, including socioeconomic status.
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The objective of this study was to evaluate differences in calories, nutrient content, overall healthfulness, and use of sweetener ingredients between products with and without sugar claims. Consumers assume products with sugar claims are healthier and lower in calories. It is therefore important claims be found on comparatively healthier items. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of the University of Toronto's 2013 Food Label Database. Subcategories where at least 5% of products (and n ≥ 5) carried a sugar claim were included (n = 3048). Differences in median calorie content, nutrient content, and overall healthfulness, using the Food Standards Australia/New Zealand Nutrient Profiling Scoring criterion, between products with and without sugar claims, were determined. Proportion of products with and without claims that had excess free sugar levels (≥10% of calories from free sugar) and that contained sweeteners was also determined. Almost half (48%) of products with sugar claims contained excess free sugar, and a greater proportion contained sweeteners than products without such claims (30% vs 5%, χ(2) = 338.6, p < 0.0001). Overall, products with sugar claims were "healthier" and had lower median calorie, free sugar, total sugar, and sodium contents than products without claims. At the subcategory level, reductions in free sugar contents were not always met with similar reductions in calorie contents. This study highlights concerns with regards to the nutritional composition of products bearing sugar claims. Findings can support educational messaging to assist consumer interpretation of sugar claims and can inform changes in nutrition policies, for example, permitting sugar claims only on products with calorie reductions and without excess free sugar.
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The “organic” claim explicitly informs consumers about the food production method. Yet, based on this claim, people often infer unrelated food attributes. The current research examined whether the perceived advantage of organic over conventional food generalizes across different organic food types. Compared to whole organic foods, processed organic foods are less available, familiar and prototypical of the organic food category. In two studies (combined N = 258) we investigated how both organic foods types were perceived in healthfulness, taste and caloric content when compared to their conventional alternatives. Participants evaluated images of both whole (e.g., lettuce) and processed organic food exemplars (e.g., pizza), and reported general evaluations of these food types. The association of these evaluations with individual difference variables – self-reported knowledge and consumption of organic food, and environmental concerns – was also examined.
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Introduction: The aim of the present study was to assess the nutrition knowledge of the University of Sharjah community. Methods: A 50-item self-administered nutrition knowledge questionnaire validated for adults in UK was adapted to assess knowledge on current dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, everyday food choices and diet-disease relationships. A cut-off score of 70% correct response was used to indicate 'adequate' knowledge level. All faculty, staff and students with UOS website accessibility were included. Results: The online questionnaire was filled by 265 respondents. The majority were 18-24-year-old students. Most respondents were aware of dietary recommendations but knowledge level was inadequate in terms of starchy foods (47.1%) to be eaten in lesser amounts; consumption of saturated fats (59.5%) to be reduced; and consumption of low fat dairy products (64.8%). Knowledge of common food sources of nutrients was adequate. Knowledge on specific sources of low salt or low fibre foods, cholesterol, healthy and not healthy alternatives to red meat was inadequate. Similarly, application of dietary recommendations in choosing everyday foods depicted inadequate knowledge. Knowledge of diet-disease relationships was also low. Females were significantly better-informed than males, with higher knowledge scores in each section of the questionnaire. Conclusion: A university community constitutes the informed section of a society. However, inadequate nutrition knowledge in this population reinforces the need for broad spectrum interventions to raise awareness on applying dietary recommendations and diet-disease relationships so as to make an informed choice in selecting everyday foods.
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Despite tremendous growth in the consumption of gluten-free (GF) foods, there is a lack of evaluation of their nutritional profile and how they compare with non-GF foods. The present study evaluated the nutritional quality of GF and non-GF foods in core food groups, and a wide range of discretionary products in Australian supermarkets. Nutritional information on the Nutrition Information Panel was systematically obtained from all packaged foods at four large supermarkets in Sydney, Australia in 2013. Food products were classified as GF if a GF declaration appeared anywhere on the product packaging, or non-GF if they contained gluten, wheat, rye, triticale, barley, oats or spelt. The primary outcome was the ‘Health Star Rating’ (HSR: lowest score 0·5; optimal score 5), a nutrient profiling scheme endorsed by the Australian Government. Differences in the content of individual nutrients were explored in secondary analyses. A total of 3213 food products across ten food categories were included. On average, GF plain dry pasta scored nearly 0·5 stars less ( P < 0·001) compared with non-GF products; however, there were no significant differences in the mean HSR for breads or ready-to-eat breakfast cereals ( P ≥ 0·42 for both). Relative to non-GF foods, GF products had consistently lower average protein content across all the three core food groups, in particular for pasta and breads (52 and 32 % less, P < 0·001 for both). A substantial proportion of foods in discretionary categories carried GF labels (e.g. 87 % of processed meats), and the average HSR of GF discretionary foods were not systematically superior to those of non-GF products. The consumption of GF products is unlikely to confer health benefits, unless there is clear evidence of gluten intolerance.
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In this era of increasing obesity and increasing threats of legislation and regulation of food marketing practices, regulatory agencies have pointedly asked how "low-fat" nutrition claims may influence food consumption. The authors develop and test a framework that contends that low-fat nutrition labels increase food intake by (1) increasing perceptions of the appropriate serving size and (2) decreasing consumption guilt. Three studies show that low-fat labels lead all consumers--particularly those who are overweight--to overeat snack foods. Furthermore, salient objective serving-size information (e.g., "Contains 2 Servings") reduces overeating among guilt-prone, normal-weight consumers but not among overweight consumers. With consumer welfare and corporate profitability in mind, the authors suggest win-win packaging and labeling insights for public policy officials and food marketers. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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The prevalence of obesity increased in the United States between 1976-1980 and 1988-1994 and again between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000. To examine trends in obesity from 1999 through 2008 and the current prevalence of obesity and overweight for 2007-2008. Analysis of height and weight measurements from 5555 adult men and women aged 20 years or older obtained in 2007-2008 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of the US population. Data from the NHANES obtained in 2007-2008 were compared with results obtained from 1999 through 2006. Estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 to 29.9. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30.0 or higher. In 2007-2008, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 33.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 31.6%-36.0%) overall, 32.2% (95% CI, 29.5%-35.0%) among men, and 35.5% (95% CI, 33.2%-37.7%) among women. The corresponding prevalence estimates for overweight and obesity combined (BMI > or = 25) were 68.0% (95% CI, 66.3%-69.8%), 72.3% (95% CI, 70.4%-74.1%), and 64.1% (95% CI, 61.3%-66.9%). Obesity prevalence varied by age group and by racial and ethnic group for both men and women. Over the 10-year period, obesity showed no significant trend among women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for 2007-2008 vs 1999-2000, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.89-1.32]). For men, there was a significant linear trend (AOR for 2007-2008 vs 1999-2000, 1.32 [95% CI, 1.12-1.58]); however, the 3 most recent data points did not differ significantly from each other. In 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2% among adult men and 35.5% among adult women. The increases in the prevalence of obesity previously observed do not appear to be continuing at the same rate over the past 10 years, particularly for women and possibly for men.
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This research examines the moderating role of attempted dietary restraint on the amount of food consumed from small food in small packages versus large food in large packages. Four experiments demonstrate that restrained eaters consume more calories from small food in small packages, while unrestrained eaters consume more calories from large food in a large package. For restrained eaters, overconsumption of the small food in small packages results from a lapse in self-control caused by the stress of perceiving conflicting food information: the small food in small packages is perceived as both diet food and high in calories. (c) 2008 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
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Eating away from home has increased in prevalence among US adults and now comprises about 50% of food expenditures. Calorie labeling on chain restaurant menus is one specific policy that has been proposed to help consumers make better food choices at restaurants. The present review evaluates the available empirical literature on the effects of calorie information on food choices in restaurant and cafeteria settings. Computer-assisted searches were conducted using the PUBMED database and the Google Scholar world wide web search engine to identify studies published in peer-review journals that evaluated calorie labeling of cafeteria or restaurant menu items. Studies that evaluated labeling only some menu items (e.g. low calorie foods only) were excluded from the review since the influence of selective labeling may be different from that which may be expected from comprehensive labeling. Six studies were identified that met the selection criteria for this review. Results from five of these studies provide some evidence consistent with the hypothesis that calorie information may influence food choices in a cafeteria or restaurant setting. However, results from most of these studies suggest the effect may be weak or inconsistent. One study found no evidence of an effect of calorie labeling on food choices. Each of the studies had at least one major methodological shortcoming, pointing toward the need for better designed studies to more rigorously evaluate the influence of point-of-purchase calorie labeling on food choices. More research is needed that meets minimum standards of methodological quality. Studies need to include behavioral outcomes such as food purchase and eating behaviors. Also, studies need to be implemented in realistic settings such as restaurants and cafeterias.
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Synopsis Psychometric and clinical correlates of the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT) are described for a large sample of female anorexia nervosa ( N = 160) and female comparison ( N = 140) subjects. An abbreviated 26-item version of the EAT (EAT-26) is proposed, based on a factor analysis of the original scale (EAT-40). The EAT-26 is highly correlated with the EAT-40 ( r = 0·98) and three factors form subscales which are meaningfully related to bulimia, weight, body-image variables and psychological symptoms. Whereas there are no differces between bulimic and restricter anorexia nervosa patients on the total EAT-26 and EAT-40 scores, these groups do indicate significant differences on EAT-26 fractors. Norms for the anorexia nervosa and female comparison subjects are presented for the EAT-26, EAT-40 and the EAT-26 factors. It is concluded that the EAT-26 is a reliable, valid and economical instrument which may be useful as an objective measure of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
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The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT; Garner & Garfinkel, 1979) is one of the most widely used self-report eating disorder instruments. Originally developed to diagnose anorexia nervosa, it is often used in nonclinical samples where it has a high false-positive rate, which is likely due to changes in diagnostic criteria. Because the EAT has not been validated with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed. [DSM-IV]; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria, we examined its criterion validity for discriminating between nonclinical women with and without an undifferentiated DSM-IV eating disorder diagnosis. We also examined differences in mean EAT scores among eating-disordered, symptomatic, and asymptomatic participants. Results show that the EAT has an accuracy rate of at least 90% when used to differentially diagnose those with and without eating disorders and that mean EAT scores differed among eating-disordered, symptomatic, and asymptomatic participants.
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To effectively promote and support healthy eating among Canadians, there needs to be a better understanding of the factors that influence eating behaviours. Perceptions of healthy eating can be considered as one of the many factors influencing people's eating habits. For this review, "perceptions of healthy eating" are defined as the public's and health professionals' meanings, understandings, views, attitudes and beliefs about healthy eating, eating for health, and healthy foods. This article's aim is to review and summarize the literature on the perceptions of healthy eating and to identify the current state of knowledge and key knowledge gaps. Databases, the worldwide web, selected journals and reference lists were searched for relevant papers from the last 20 years. Reviewed articles suggest relative homogeneity in the perceptions of healthy eating despite the studies being conducted in different countries and involving different age groups, sexes and socio-economic status. Perceptions of healthy eating were generally based on food choice. Fruits and vegetables were consistently recognized as part of healthy eating. Characteristics of food such as naturalness, and fat, sugar and salt contents were also important in people's perceptions of healthy eating. Concepts related to healthy eating, such as balance, variety and moderation, were often mentioned, but they were found to be polysemous, conveying multiple meanings. The main gap identified in this review concerns the lack of knowledge available on perceptions of healthy eating. More data are needed on the perceptions of healthy eating in general, on the influence on perceptions of messages from diverse sources such as food companies, and, most important, on the role of perceptions of healthy eating as a determinant of food choice.
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We surveyed 7318 customers from 275 randomly selected restaurants of 11 fast food chains. Participants purchased a mean of 827 calories, with 34% purchasing 1000 calories or more. Unlike other chains, Subway posted calorie information at point of purchase and its patrons more often reported seeing calorie information than patrons of other chains (32% vs 4%; P<.001); Subway patrons who saw calorie information purchased 52 fewer calories than did other Subway patrons (P<.01). Fast-food chains should display calorie information prominently at point of purchase, where it can be seen and used to inform purchases.
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The development of the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) with scales for restrained, emotional, and external eating is described. Factor analyses have shown that all items on restrained and external eating each have high loadings on one factor, but items on emotional eating have two dimensions, one dealing with eating in response to diffuse emotions, and the other with eating in response to clearly labelled emotions. The pattern of corrected item-total correlation coefficients and of the factors was very similar for various subsamples, which indicates a high degree of stability of dimensions on the eating behavior scales. The norms and Cronbach's alpha coefficients of the scales and also the Pearson's correlation coefficients to assess interrelationships between scales indicate that the scales have a high internal consistency and factorial validity. However, their external validity has yet to be investigated.
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The development of the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) with scales for restrained, emotional, and external eating is described. Factor analyses have shown that all items on restrained and external eating each have high loadings on one factor, but items on emotional eating have two dimensions, one dealing with eating in response to diffuse emotions, and the other with eating in response to clearly labelled emotions. The pattern of corrected item-total correlation coefficients and of the factors was very similar for various subsamples, which indicates a high degree of stability of dimensions on the eating behavior scales. The norms and Cronbach's alpha coefficients of the scales and also the Pearson's correlation coefficients to assess interrelationships between scales indicate that the scales have a high internal consistency and factorial validity. However, their external validity has yet to be investigated.
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Our perceptions of the healthiness of foods are thought to influence what we decide to eat. Reportedly, women (as compared to men) eat more nutritious foods and are more likely to consider health issues when deciding what to eat However, until now, few studies have investigated possible gender differences in perceptions of the healthiness of foods. In the present study, men and women answered questions pertaining to nutritional habits, then rated a variety of foods according to their healthfulness. Results indicated that women, compared to men, tended to emphasize fat content over nutrient levels when deciding what foods are healthy. If perceptions of food health influence consumption, it is likely that females, as compared to males, would be more likely to suffer from malnutrition.
The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the 26-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26; Garner, Olmsted, Bohr, & Garfinkel, 1982) using a sample of 207 female college athletes. Previous studies using nonathlete populations have supported a number of factor structures, but a series of confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) produced poor fit and problematic parameter estimates in this sample. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) supported a five-factor model that consisted of Drive for Thinness, Food Preoccupation, Others' Perceptions, Purging Behavior, and Dieting Behavior factors. Internal consistency reliability coefficients for these subscale scores ranged between .70 and .88. Convergent validity evidence was established by correlating EAT-26 subscales with four external criteria including body mass index, the difference between self-reported ideal and actual weights, the Drive for Thinness subscale of the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI-2; Garner, 1991), and the Body Dissatisfaction subscale of the EDI-2.
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The main aim of this study was to investigate the effects of food-related beliefs about the healthiness of foods, restrained eating, and weight salience on actual food intake during an ad libitum snack. In a 2 (healthy vs. unhealthy) by 2 (restrained vs. unrestrained eaters) by 2 (weight salient vs. not salient) factorial design, 99 female undergraduate students were invited to taste and rate oatmeal-raisin cookies. Dietary restraint and weight salience did not influence snack intake, but participants ate about 35% more when the snack was regarded as healthy than when it was seen as unhealthy. Ratings of the snack food's “healthiness,” “capacity to affect weight” and “appropriateness in a healthy menu” also indicated that the “healthy” manipulation was effective. In addition, the “weight salience” manipulation appears to influence perceptions about food differently in restrained versus unrestrained eaters, in that restrained eaters rated the snack food more negatively than unrestrained eaters did when they received weight feedback before eating. Beliefs about the healthiness of foods may thus be of great relevance to both food intake and weight gain.
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This paper evaluates a pilot program run by a company called OPOWER, previously known as Positive Energy, to mail home energy reports to residential utility consumers. The reports compare a household’s energy use to that of its neighbors and provide energy conservation tips. Using data from randomized natural field experiment at 80,000 treatment and control households in Minnesota, I estimate that the monthly program reduces energy consumption by 1.9 to 2.0 percent relative to baseline. In a treatment arm receiving reports each quarter, the effects decay in the months between letters and again increase upon receipt of the next letter. This suggests either that the energy conservation information is not useful across seasons or, perhaps more interestingly, that consumers’ motivation or attention is malleable and non-durable. I show that “profiling,” or using a statistical decision rule to target the program at households whose observable characteristics suggest larger treatment effects, could substantially improve cost effectiveness in future programs. The effects of this program provide additional evidence that non-price “nudges” can substantially affect consumer behavior.
Article
We assessed the impact of restaurant menu calorie labels on food choices and intake. Participants in a study dinner (n=303) were randomly assigned to either (1) a menu without calorie labels (no calorie labels), (2) a menu with calorie labels (calorie labels), or (3) a menu with calorie labels and a label stating the recommended daily caloric intake for an average adult (calorie labels plus information). Food choices and intake during and after the study dinner were measured. Participants in both calorie label conditions ordered fewer calories than those in the no calorie labels condition. When calorie label conditions were combined, that group consumed 14% fewer calories than the no calorie labels group. Individuals in the calorie labels condition consumed more calories after the study dinner than those in both other conditions. When calories consumed during and after the study dinner were combined, participants in the calorie labels plus information group consumed an average of 250 fewer calories than those in the other groups. Calorie labels on restaurant menus impacted food choices and intake; adding a recommended daily caloric requirement label increased this effect, suggesting menu label legislation should require such a label. Future research should evaluate menu labeling's impact on children's food choices and consumption.
Article
The development of the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) with scales for restrained, emotional, and external eating is described. Factor analyses have shown that all items on restrained and external eating each have high loadings on one factor, but items on emotional eating have two dimensions, one dealing with eating in reponse to diffuse emotions, and the other with eating in response to clearly labelled emotions. The pattern of corrected item-total correlation coefficients and of the factors was very similar for various subsamples, which indicates a high degree of stability of dimensions on the eating behavior scales. The norms and Cronbach's alpha coefficients of the scales and also the Pearson's correlation coefficients to assess interrelationships between scales indicate that the scales have a high internal consistency and factorial validity. However, their external validity has yet to be investigated.
Article
By the 1930s, observational studies had suggested a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and, by the 1950s, strong evidence for a causal role had emerged. However, comprehensive measures to reduce cigarette smoking in the United States were delayed until after the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, in part due to the political influence of the tobacco industry.1In 1977, the US Senate Select Committee on Health and Human Needs held hearings to explore the relationship between diet and chronic disease.2 At that time, the adverse effects of saturated fat on blood cholesterol levels were well-documented, motivating the committee to recommend reducing this type of fat to 10% of calorie intake. The committee also recommended reducing total fat to 30% of calorie intake, despite concerns from scientists, such as the administrator of the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, that “only limited knowledge exists concerning proper diets for humans.”2 For the next 20 years, reduction of fat consumption became the primary dietary goal of the US government and virtually all nutrition-related professional health associations. As a result, fat consumption as a proportion of total energy decreased markedly from the 1970s to the 1990s.3 During this period, the prevalence of obesity and diabetes increased greatly. Indeed, some have argued that the focus on reducing all dietary fats has actually caused harm, by diverting attention away from more effective action and by encouraging substitution of processed carbohydrates for more healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.3
Article
Current research in human eating is assessed from the perspective of current research methods which stress laboratory research, the use of artificial foods rather than real meals, shorter term studies, animal models, and abnormal eating models and an emphasis on sensory and physiological factors rather than social, cultural and contextual factors. The proposal is made to refocus more human eating research on real people eating real foods in real eating situations.
Article
This study tested the hypothesis that the perceived fat content of a preload (a required first course) influences subsequent food and energy intake. Forty-eight healthy, nondieting women (24 restrained, 24 unrestrained) were given a fixed amount (350 g) of three different yogurts (low-fat, low-calorie; low-fat, high-calorie; high-fat, high-calorie), or no yogurt, followed by lunch (30 minutes after the yogurt preload was served) and dinner (4.5 hours later). Each subject was tested in all four conditions in a counterbalanced design. Half of the subjects received accurate information, in the form of a label, about the fat content of the yogurts, which did not necessarily correspond to energy content; the other half received no information. Energy intake, the percentage of macronutrients in the meals, and subjective sensations of hunger and satiety were analyzed. No effect of restraint was noted in the intake analyses. A significant information-by-preload interaction (P < .05) was found. Subjects who had information consumed more energy at lunch after eating a preload labeled low fat than after eating a preload with similar energy content but labeled high fat. The opposite response was seen in women who did not receive information. When energy consumed at dinner was included in the analyses, overall intake was still significantly greater in the women who received information and ate a low-fat preload. No differences were found in the percentage of macronutrients selected or in subjective sensations after consumption of any of the preloads. Messages about the fat content of a food can influence energy intake in healthy women.
Article
Two studies explored Americans' tendency to simplify nutrition information. Substantial minorities of separate samples of college students, physical plant workers, and a national sample considered a variety of substances, including some essential nutrients (salt and fat), to be harmful at trace levels. Almost half the respondents believed that high-calorie foods in small amounts contain more calories than low-calorie foods in much larger amounts. Many subjects classified foods according to a good/bad dichotomy, and almost all subjects confounded nutritional completeness with long-term healthfulness of foods. To account for these results, we suggest the following heuristics and biases: dose insensitivity, categorical perception, a "monotonic mind" belief (if something is harmful at high levels then it is harmful at low levels), and the magical principle of contagion.
Article
Sensory responses to the taste, smell, and texture of foods help determine food preferences and eating habits. However, sensory responses alone do not predict food consumption. The view that a "sweet tooth" leads to obesity through excess sugar consumption is overly narrow. In reality, there are multiple links between taste perceptions, taste preferences, food preferences, and food choices and the amount of food consumed. Taste responses are influenced by a range of genetic, physiological, and metabolic variables. The impact of taste factors on food intake further depends on sex and age and is modulated by obesity, eating disorders, and other pathologies of eating behavior. Food preferences and food choices of populations are further linked to attitudinal, social, and--probably most important--economic variables such as income. Nutrition education and intervention strategies aimed at improving population diets ought to consider sensory pleasure response to foods, in addition to a wide range of demographic and sociocultural variables.
Article
The current study had two goals: first, to examine the stereotypes people have of particular foods by having them rate foods' names and nutrient descriptions; second, to determine if men and women rated food names and descriptions differently, and to examine the characteristics used to gauge salubrity. Of 33 foods presented, 16 had names rated better than their descriptions (a positive stereotype). In 11 cases, foods' descriptions were rated more positively than their names (a negative stereotype). Therefore, people have expectations about food names that do not match descriptions of foods' nutritional contents. Also, names of particular types of foods (e.g. fruits) were often perceived to be healthier than their corresponding descriptions. Women rated certain low-fat food names as more healthy compared to men. In addition, women tended to have bigger discrepancies between food names and their corresponding descriptions than did men, indicating that women were more likely to have biases about food names that did not match their ratings of the same foods' descriptions. Regression analyses indicated that women used fat content when judging healthfulness of food names, while men used fat content and vitamins and minerals. Men and women used similar characteristics when judging healthfulness of food descriptions.
Article
Previous findings indicated that college-aged women (compared to men) were more likely to use stereotypes when judging food names by their healthfulness. The present study is a replication and extension of an earlier study, using older (i.e. not traditional college age) participants (M(age)=46). In general, men had fewer and smaller discrepancies between their evaluations of food names and descriptions than did females. As previously found, gender differences occurred for evaluations of food names rather than nutrient descriptions, with women using less information than men. The stereotype women used when judging food names involved negative attitudes toward dietary fat, whereas men appeared to take account of vitamin and mineral content in addition to fat. The older sample was generally more accurate (i.e. had smaller discrepancies when judging food names and descriptions) than were the previous sample of younger adults. Also, the current sample of older adults used more characteristics when evaluating food healthfulness of descriptions than did the previous sample of college students, indicating a more complex strategy of evaluating healthfulness of food descriptions.
Article
The purpose of the present study was to explore to what extent gender, age, and dieting status predict the most important food characteristic that people use when judging the healthfulness of foods. Pilot study data indicated that both gender and dieting status were predictive of the food characteristics chosen as most important for health in college-aged men and women. In the present study, community-residing young, middle-aged, and older adults ranked food characteristics and indicated dieting status. Results indicated that "freshness" and "fat content" were by far the characteristics most frequently nominated as most important for food health regardless of age, gender, or dieting status. Further, dieting status was the most important factor that predicted participants' rankings of food characteristics important for health. The fact that differences in dieting status (a transitory state) predicted the rankings of the food characteristics suggests that concepts concerning the health value of foods may frequently change. There is evidence that college-aged women generally rank food characteristics differently compared to college-aged men and older participants. Possibly, gender differences in judgements of food healthiness may become less apparent as we grow older; if so, college-aged women (more than men) likely make the greatest adjustment, in terms of judging foods, as they age most likely because of changes in the frequency or intensity of weight concern and dieting.