Objective Understanding of Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels among Nutritionally At-Risk Individuals.

Nutrients. 2015 Aug 24;7(8):7106-25. doi: 10.3390/nu7085325

Ducrot P, Méjean C, Julia C, Kesse-Guyot E, Touvier M, Fezeu LK, Hercberg S, Péneau S.

In the ongoing debate about front-of-package (FOP) nutrition labels, little data exist regarding nutritionally at-risk populations, although they are critical targets of prevention programs. This study aimed to compare the impact of FOP labels on the ability to rank products according to their nutritional quality among French adults potentially at risk of poor dietary quality (N = 14,230). Four labels were evaluated: Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA), Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL), 5-Color Nutrition Label (5-CNL), Green Tick (Tick), along with a reference without label. Mixed models were used to assess how individual characteristics and FOP labels were associated with the ability to rank products. Older participants and those with a lower educational level, income, nutritional knowledge, and likelihood of reading nutrition facts were less skilled at ranking food products according to nutritional quality. Compared with individual characteristics, nutrition labels had an increased impact on food product ranking ability. Overall, 5-CNL corresponded to the highest rate of correct responses, followed by MTL, GDA, and Tick (p < 0.0001). The strongest impact of 5-CNL was observed among individuals with no nutritional knowledge (odds ratio (OR): 20.24; 95% confidence interval (CI): 13.19-31.06). Therefore, 5-CNL appeared to be effective at informing consumers, including those who are nutritionally at-risk, about the nutritional quality of food products.