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Effects of different types of front-of-pack labelling information on the healthiness of food purchases—a randomised controlled trial

Neal, Bruce, Crino, Michelle, Dunford, Elizabeth, Gao, Annie, Greenland, Rohan, Li, Nicole, Ngai, Judith, Ni Mhurchu, Cliona, Pettigrew, Simone, Sacks, Gary, Webster, Jacqui and Wu, Jason HY 2017, Effects of different types of front-of-pack labelling information on the healthiness of food purchases—a randomised controlled trial, Nutrients, vol. 9, no. 12, pp. 1-14, doi: 10.3390/nu9121284.

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Title Effects of different types of front-of-pack labelling information on the healthiness of food purchases—a randomised controlled trial
Author(s) Neal, Bruce
Crino, Michelle
Dunford, Elizabeth
Gao, Annie
Greenland, Rohan
Li, Nicole
Ngai, Judith
Ni Mhurchu, Cliona
Pettigrew, Simone
Sacks, GaryORCID iD for Sacks, Gary orcid.org/0000-0001-9736-1539
Webster, Jacqui
Wu, Jason HY
Journal name Nutrients
Volume number 9
Issue number 12
Article ID 1284
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Publisher MDPI
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publication date 2017-11-24
ISSN 2072-6643
Keyword(s) food industry
food labelling
food purchases
policy
randomised trial
science & technology
life sciences & biomedicine
nutrition & dietetics
Summary Background: Front-of-pack nutrition labelling may support healthier packaged food purchases. Australia has adopted a novel Health Star Rating (HSR) system, but the legitimacy of this choice is unknown. Objective: To define the effects of different formats of front-of-pack labelling on the healthiness of food purchases and consumer perceptions.

Design: Individuals were assigned at random to access one of four different formats of nutrition labelling—HSR, multiple traffic light labels (MTL), daily intake guides (DIG), recommendations/warnings (WARN)—or control (the nutrition information panel, NIP). Participants accessed nutrition information by using a smartphone application to scan the bar-codes of packaged foods, while shopping. The primary outcome was healthiness defined by the mean transformed nutrient profile score of packaged foods that were purchased over four weeks.

Results: The 1578 participants, mean age 38 years, 84% female recorded purchases of 148,727 evaluable food items. The mean healthiness of the purchases in the HSR group was non-inferior to MTL, DIG, or WARN (all p < 0.001 at 2% non-inferiority margin). When compared to the NIP control, there was no difference in the mean healthiness of purchases for HSR, MTL, or DIG (all p > 0.07), but WARN resulted in healthier packaged food purchases (mean difference 0.87; 95% confidence interval 0.03 to 1.72; p = 0.04). HSR was perceived by participants as more useful than DIG, and easier to understand than MTL or DIG (all p < 0.05). Participants also reported the HSR to be easier to understand, and the HSR and MTL to be more useful, than NIP (all p < 0.03).

Conclusions: These real-world data align with experimental findings and provide support for the policy choice of HSR. Recommendation/warning labels warrant further exploration, as they may be a stronger driver of healthy food purchases.
Language eng
DOI 10.3390/nu9121284
Field of Research 1111 Nutrition And Dietetics
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2017, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30110467

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Population Health
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.