Article

Interpretation of two nutrition content claims: A New Zealand survey

University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 1.98). 02/2010; 34(1):57-62. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00474.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

To determine how various population groups in New Zealand interpret the nutrition content claims '97% fat free' and 'no added sugar' on food labels.
A survey of adult supermarket shoppers was conducted at 25 Auckland supermarkets over a six-week period in 2007. Supermarkets were located in areas where greater than 10% of the resident population were known to be Māori, Pacific or Asian, based on 2001 Census meshblock data. Four questions in the survey assessed understanding and interpretation of the nutrition content claims '97% fat free' and 'no added sugar'.
There were 1,525 people who completed the survey, with approximately equal representation from Māori, Pacific, Asian and New Zealand European and Other ethnicities. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of participants correctly estimated the fat content of a 100 g product that was '97% fat free', and understood that a product with 'no added sugars' could contain natural sugar. However, up to three-quarters of Māori, Pacific, and Asian shoppers assumed that if a food carried a '97% fat free' or 'no added sugar' claim it was therefore a healthy food. Similarly, low-income shoppers were significantly more likely than medium- or high-income shoppers to assume that the presence of a claim meant a food was definitely healthy.
Percentage fat free and no added sugar nutrition content claims on food are frequently misinterpreted by shoppers as meaning the food is healthy overall and appear to be particularly misleading for Māori, Pacific, Asian and low-income groups.
Nutrition content claims have potential for harm if the food they are placed on is not healthy overall. Such claims should therefore only be permitted to be placed on healthy foods.

2 Followers
 · 
12 Reads
    • "For instance, a series of three studies in the US showed that low-fat nutrition labels lead consumers (especially those overweight) to overeat snack foods by increasing perceptions of appropriate serving size and decreasing consumption guilt (Wansink & Chandon, 2006). In a recent study Drewnowski and colleagues (2010) found that perceived healthfulness of food products among consumers was most strongly driven by declared presence of protein, fiber, calcium and Vitamin C. Contrastingly nutrient content claims can be harmful if the food they are placed on is not healthy overall (Gorton, Mhurchu, Bramley, & Dixon, 2010); indeed they could also mislead when marketers emphasize one nutritional attribute without disclosing other, less healthful ones (Kelly, Hattersley, King, & Flood, 2009) A nutrient function claim is " a nutrition claim that describes the physiological role of the nutrient in growth, development and normal functions of the body " (Codex Alimentarius, 1997) . Among the few studies to specifically focus on the presence of different types of food claims, found that nearly 14% of Australian food products analyzed used nutrient function claims (Williams, et al., 2006). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Food claims invite controversies on account of their potential to mislead consumers while at times masquerading as health information devices. In the United States, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, scholars have extensively studied the prevalence of food claims, the regulatory repercussions, and effects of such claims on consumers’ food perceptions and dietary choices. Our study is an attempt to address a gap in related research focused on Asia by situating the inquiry in Singapore where consumers are exposed to a wide variety of such claims due to the universality of food imports. This study examines the state of food claims by the food product’s region of origin, and focus specifically on the use of terms “natural” and “fresh” on food labels. We present recommendations for food marketing policymakers and practitioners.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Food Products Marketing
  • Source

    Preview · Article · Jan 2011
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Health and related claims on food labels can support consumer education initiatives that encourage purchase of healthier foods. A new food Standard on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims became law in January 2013. Implementation will need careful monitoring and enforcement to ensure that claims are truthful and have meaning. The current study explored factors that may impact on environmental health officers' food labelling policy enforcement practices. The study used a mixed-methods approach, using two previously validated quantitative questionnaire instruments that provided measures of the level of control that the officers exercised over their work, as well as qualitative, semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Local government; Australia. Thirty-seven officers in three Australian states participated in semi-structured in-depth interviews, as well as completing the quantitative questionnaires. Senior and junior officers, including field officers, participated in the study. The officers reported a high level of autonomy and control of their work, but also a heavy workload, dominated by concerns for public health and food safety, with limited time for monitoring food labels. Compliance of labels with proposed health claims regulations was not considered a priority. Lipsky's theory of street-level bureaucracy was used to enhance understanding of officers' work practices. Competing priorities affect environmental health officers' monitoring and enforcement of regulations. Understanding officers' work practices and their perceptions of enforcement is important to increase effectiveness of policy implementation and hence its capacity to augment education initiatives to optimize health benefits.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Public Health Nutrition
Show more