Do nutritional warnings do their work? Results from a choice experiment involving snack products

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  • Leandro Machín, Universidad de la Republica
  • ,
  • María Rosa Curutchet, Instituto Nacional de Alimentación
  • ,
  • Ana Giménez, Universidad de la República Facultad de Química
  • ,
  • Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
  • Gastón Ares, Universidad de la Republica, Universidad de la República Facultad de Química

Nutritional warnings have been recently introduced as a new front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme. Its particular goal is to facilitate the identification of products with excessive content of nutrients, given these are associated with non-communicable diseases. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of nutritional warnings on consumers’ choice of a snack in a choice experiment involving real products. A total of 199 participants were asked to evaluate a series of bread images on a computer screen using eye-tracking glasses. Once they finished the task, they were invited to help themselves a snack from a shelf as a compensation for their participation in the study. A total of 15 snack products with different nutritional composition were included on the shelf. Participants were randomly divided into groups: one that made their choice from a shelf containing products that did not include front-of-package nutritional information, whereas the other chose among products that featured nutritional warnings. Participants in both experiments invested an average of 14 s to select their product. When products were presented with warnings, 50% of the participants fixated their gaze on the warnings during the choice task. Significant differences in the frequency of selection of the products (p = 0.002) were found between the groups. When the warnings were present, participants chose products with fewer warnings and lower average sodium, saturated fat, and sugar content (p < 0.001). These findings confirm the potential of nutritional warnings to encourage more healthful food choices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Pages (from-to)159-165
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Choice experiments, Eye-tracking, FOP, Front-of-pack, Nutrition information, Nutrition labelling

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