Department of Management

Time orientation and risk perception moderate the influence of sodium warnings on food choice: Implications for the design of communication campaigns

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  • Edgar Rojas-Rivas
  • ,
  • Lucía Antúnez
  • ,
  • Facundo Cuffia
  • ,
  • Tobias Otterbring
  • ,
  • Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
  • Ana Giménez, Universidad de la República Facultad de Química, Uruguay
  • Gastón Ares, Universidad de la Republica

The inclusion of sodium warnings on food packages has been proposed as a means to encourage population to reduce sodium intake. However, consumers who focus on today rather than tomorrow or consumers who downplay or underestimate risks might pay little attention to warnings. The aim of the present study was to explore whether time orientation and perceived risk of sodium consumption may moderate the influence of sodium warnings on food choices. An online study involving 498 Uruguayan participants was carried out. Participants evaluated pairs of bread packages differing in three 2-level variables (sodium warning, type of bread and brand) and were asked to indicate the one they would choose if they were in a supermarket. Then, they answered a scale on ‘consideration of future consequences’ adapted to eating habits, and responded to statements measuring perceived risk of sodium consumption. Results revealed that sodium warnings had a significant effect on participants' choices. However, the efficacy of warnings was moderated by time orientation and risk perception. A focus on immediate consequences and thinking that the risk associated with sodium consumption can be compensated, decreased the efficacy of the sodium warning. These results provide experimental evidence of the potential of warnings to discourage consumption of products with high sodium content and suggest that communication campaigns accompanying the introduction of warnings should promote a future-oriented vision on eating habits, raise risk awareness and stress that the risks are not easily compensated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104562
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Consideration of future consequences, Front-of-package, Nutrition information, Risk perception, Sodium, Time orientation

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