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Warnings as a directive front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme: comparison with the Guideline Daily Amount and traffic-light systems

  • Alejandra Arrúa (a1), Leandro Machín (a1), María Rosa Curutchet (a2), Joseline Martínez (a2), Lucía Antúnez (a3), Florencia Alcaire (a3), Ana Giménez (a3) and Gastón Ares (a1) (a3)...
Abstract
Objective

Warnings have recently been proposed as a new type of directive front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling scheme to flag products with high content of key nutrients. In the present work, this system was compared with the two most common FOP nutrition labelling schemes (Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and traffic-light system) in terms of goal-directed attention, influence on perceived healthfulness and ability to differentiate between products.

Design/Setting/Subjects

Goal-directed attention to FOP labels was evaluated using a visual search task in which participants were presented with labels on a computer screen and were asked to indicate whether labels with high sodium content were present or absent. A survey with 387 participants was also carried out, in which the influence of FOP labels on perceived healthfulness and ability to identify the healthful alternative were evaluated.

Results

Warnings improved consumers’ ability to correctly identify a product with high content of a key nutrient within a set of labels compared with GDA and received the highest goal-directed attention. In addition, products with high energy, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium content that featured warnings on the label were perceived as less healthful than those featuring the GDA or traffic-light system. Warnings and the traffic-light system performed equally well in the identification of the most healthful product.

Conclusions

Results from the present work suggest that warnings have potential as directive FOP nutrition labels to improve consumer ability to identify unhealthful products and highlight advantages compared with the traffic-light system.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email gares@fq.edu.uy
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