Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Open access
  • Cited by 39
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Banas, Kasia Cruwys, Tegan de Wit, John B.F. Johnston, Marie and Haslam, S. Alexander 2016. When group members go against the grain: An ironic interactive effect of group identification and normative content on healthy eating. Appetite, Vol. 105, p. 344.

    Machín, Leandro Giménez, Ana Curutchet, María Rosa Martínez, Joseline and Ares, Gastón 2016. Motives Underlying Food Choice for Children and Perception of Nutritional Information Among Low-Income Mothers in a Latin American Country. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Vol. 48, Issue. 7, p. 478.

    Muller, L. and Prevost, M. 2016. What cognitive sciences have to say about the impacts of nutritional labelling formats. Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 55, p. 17.

    Weinrich, Ramona and Spiller, Achim 2016. Developing food labelling strategies: Multi-level labelling. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 137, p. 1138.

    Dean, M. Spence, M. Hodgkins, C. and Raats, M.M. 2015. Advances in Food and Beverage Labelling.

    Dingman, Deirdre A Schulz, Mark R Wyrick, David L Bibeau, Daniel L and Gupta, Sat N 2015. Does providing nutrition information at vending machines reduce calories per item sold?. Journal of Public Health Policy, Vol. 36, Issue. 1, p. 110.

    Graham, Dan. J. Heidrick, Charles and Hodgin, Katie 2015. Nutrition Label Viewing during a Food-Selection Task: Front-of-Package Labels vs Nutrition Facts Labels. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vol. 115, Issue. 10, p. 1636.

    J. van buul, Vincent and Brouns, Fred J. P. H. 2015. Nutrition and Health Claims as Marketing Tools. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Vol. 55, Issue. 11, p. 1552.

    Kleef, Ellen Van and Dagevos, Hans 2015. The Growing Role of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Profile Labeling: A Consumer Perspective on Key Issues and Controversies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Vol. 55, Issue. 3, p. 291.

    Lee, Kiwon Lee, Youngmi and Kwon, Sooyoun 2015. How nutrition information frame affects parents’ perceptions of restaurants: The moderating role of information credibility. International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 46, p. 112.

    Maitah, Mansoor Hodrab, Rami Malec, Karel and Shanab, Sawsan Abu 2015. Exploring the Determinants of Consumer Behavior in West Bank, Towards Domestic and Imported Dairy Products. Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, Vol. 63, Issue. 1, p. 355.

    Orquin, Jacob L. and Scholderer, Joachim 2015. Consumer judgments of explicit and implied health claims on foods: Misguided but not misled. Food Policy, Vol. 51, p. 144.

    Raats, M M Hieke, S Jola, C Hodgkins, C Kennedy, J and Wills, J 2015. Reference amounts utilised in front of package nutrition labelling; impact on product healthfulness evaluations. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, Issue. 5, p. 619.

    Weinrich, Ramona Nitzko, Sina Spiller, Achim and Zühlsdorf, Anke 2015. Verbraucherverständnis von Verkehrsbezeichnungen. Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, Vol. 10, Issue. 1, p. 13.

    Lioutas, Evagelos D. 2014. Food Consumer Information Behavior: Need Arousal, Seeking Behavior, and Information Use. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, Vol. 15, Issue. 2, p. 81.

    Nelson, Dustin Graham, Dan and Harnack, Lisa 2014. An Objective Measure of Nutrition Facts Panel Usage and Nutrient Quality of Food Choice. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Vol. 46, Issue. 6, p. 589.

    Platkin, Charles Yeh, Ming-Chin Hirsch, Kimberly Wiewel, Ellen Weiss Lin, Chang-Yun Tung, Ho-Jui and Castellanos, Victoria H 2014. The effect of menu labeling with calories and exercise equivalents on food selection and consumption. BMC Obesity, Vol. 1, Issue. 1,

    Roberto, C A and Khandpur, N 2014. Improving the design of nutrition labels to promote healthier food choices and reasonable portion sizes. International Journal of Obesity, Vol. 38, p. S25.

    Watson, Wendy L. Kelly, Bridget Hector, Debra Hughes, Clare King, Lesley Crawford, Jennifer Sergeant, John and Chapman, Kathy 2014. Can front-of-pack labelling schemes guide healthier food choices? Australian shoppers’ responses to seven labelling formats. Appetite, Vol. 72, p. 90.

    Aschemann-Witzel, Jessica Grunert, Klaus G. van Trijp, Hans C.M. Bialkova, Svetlana Raats, Monique M. Hodgkins, Charo Wasowicz-Kirylo, Grazyna and Koenigstorfer, Joerg 2013. Effects of nutrition label format and product assortment on the healthfulness of food choice. Appetite, Vol. 71, p. 63.


Consumer preferences for front-of-pack calories labelling

  • Ellen van Kleef (a1), Hans van Trijp (a1), Frederic Paeps (a2) and Laura Fernández-Celemín (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2008

In light of the emerging obesity pandemic, front-of-pack calories labels may be an important tool to assist consumers in making informed healthier food choices. However, there is little prior research to guide key decisions on whether caloric content should be expressed in absolute terms or relative to recommended daily intake, whether it should be expressed in per serving or per 100 g and whether the information should be further brought alive for consumers in terms of what the extra calorie intake implies in relation to activity levels. The present study aimed at providing more insight into consumers’ appreciation of front-of-pack labelling of caloric content of food products and their specific preferences for alternative execution formats for such information in Europe.


For this purpose, eight executions of front-of-pack calorie flags were designed and their appeal and information value were extensively discussed with consumers through qualitative research in four different countries (Germany, The Netherlands, France and the UK).


The results show that calories are well-understood and that participants were generally positive about front-of-pack flags, particularly when flags are uniform across products. The most liked flags are the simpler flags depicting only the number of calories per serving or per 100 g, while more complex flags including references to daily needs or exercise and the flag including a phrase referring to balanced lifestyle were least preferred. Some relevant differences between countries were observed. Although participants seem to be familiar with the notion of calories, they do not seem to fully understand how to apply them.


From the results, managerial implications for the design and implementation of front-of-pack calorie labelling as well as important directions for future research are discussed.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Consumer preferences for front-of-pack calories labelling
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Consumer preferences for front-of-pack calories labelling
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Consumer preferences for front-of-pack calories labelling
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding authors: Emails,
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1W Verbeke . Agriculture and the food industry in the information age. European Review of Agricultural Economics 2005; 32 (3): 347368.

2MR Darby , E Karni . Free competition and the optimal amount of fraud. Journal of Law and Economics 1973; 16: 6788.

5S Kim , RM Nayga , O Capps . Food label use, self-selectivity, and diet quality. Journal of Consumer Affairs 2001; 35 (2): 346363.

7G Cowburn , L Stockley . Consumer understanding and use of nutrition labelling: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition 2005; 8 (1): 2128.

9SC Smith , AM Stephen , C Dombrow , D Macquarrie . Food information programs: a review of the literature. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 2002; 63 (2): 5560.

13A Denny . Stop, think, go? – are signposting labelling schemes the way forward? British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin 2006; 31: 8487.

14AS Levy , SB Fein . Consumers’ ability to perform tasks using nutrition labels. Journal of Nutrition Education 1998; 30: 210217.

16B Wansink . How do front and back labels influence beliefs about health claims? Journal of Consumer Affairs 2003; 37 (2): 305316.

24B Wansink , P Chandon . Meal size, not body size, explains errors in estimating the calorie content of meals. Annals of Internal Medicine 2006; 145 (5): 326332.

25KG Grunert , JM Wills . A review of European research on consumer response to nutrition information on food labels. Journal of Public Health 2007; in press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *