How nutrition labels can increase our food consumption

Researchers from the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, in the UK, and the University of Alberta, in Canada, recently published the results of a study regarding the impact of nutrition labelling on food and energy intake.

48 people aged between 23 and 50 years old took part in the experiment. It took place on three different days which were separated by two-week intervals. Participants were provided with the same lunch meal (chicken curry with rice) on each day, however it was accompanied by a different label containing information about the fat and energy content of the meal.

Results showed that the amount of food and the corresponding energy intake increased by 3% (28g and 39kcals, respectively) when people thought the meal was low in fat and energy compared to the baseline condition. In contrast, a high fat high energy label did not change food and energy intake relative to the baseline. People reported a willingness to consume more food when the meal was presented as low fat/low energy compared to the high fat/high energy condition.

This research indicates that nutrition labels that indicate low levels of fat and energy can sometimes create misperceptions in consumers’ minds, leading to overconsumption of the product.

Research published earlier in the year led by the NICHE research group in Northern Ireland found that products with health and nutrition claims such as ‘low fat’ and ‘reduced fat’ may be contributing to people eating larger than recommended portions. It also indicated that many people assume that foods with certain health claims are lower in calories than they are.

Posted: 11/12/2013 09:42:54 by Laura Keaver


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