Impact of front-of-pack 'traffic-light' nutrition labelling on consumer food purchases in the UK

Sacks, Gary, Rayner, Mike and Swinburn, Boyd 2009, Impact of front-of-pack 'traffic-light' nutrition labelling on consumer food purchases in the UK, Health promotion international, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 344-352, doi: 10.1093/heapro/dap032.

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Title Impact of front-of-pack 'traffic-light' nutrition labelling on consumer food purchases in the UK
Author(s) Sacks, GaryORCID iD for Sacks, Gary
Rayner, Mike
Swinburn, Boyd
Journal name Health promotion international
Volume number 24
Issue number 4
Start page 344
End page 352
Total pages 9
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2009-10-08
ISSN 0957-4824
Keyword(s) barriers
Summary Front-of-pack ‘traffic-light’ nutrition labelling has been widely proposed as a tool to improve public health nutrition. This study examined changes to consumer food purchases after the introduction of traffic-light labels with the aim of assessing the impact of the labels on the ‘healthiness’ of foods purchased. The study examined sales data from a major UK retailer in 2007. We analysed products in two categories (‘ready meals’ and sandwiches), investigating the percentage change in sales 4 weeks before and after traffic-light labels were introduced, and taking into account seasonality, product promotions and product life-cycle. We investigated whether changes in sales were related to the healthiness of products. All products that were not new and not on promotion immediately before or after the introduction of traffic-light labels were selected for the analysis (n = 6 for ready meals and n = 12 for sandwiches). For the selected ready-meals, sales increased (by 2.4% of category sales) in the 4 weeks after the introduction of traffic-light labels, whereas sales of the selected sandwiches did not change significantly. Critically, there was no association between changes in product sales and the healthiness of the products. This short-term study based on a small number of ready meals and sandwiches found that the introduction of a system of four traffic-light labels had no discernable effect on the relative healthiness of consumer purchases. Further research on the influence of nutrition signposting will be needed before this labelling format can be considered a promising public health intervention.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/heapro/dap032
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920411 Nutrition
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2009
Copyright notice ©2009, The Author
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Public Health Research, Evaluation, and Policy Cluster
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