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Watson W.L.,Cancer Council NSW | Kelly B.,University of Wollongong | Kelly B.,University of Sydney | Hector D.,University of Sydney | And 5 more authors.
Appetite | Year: 2014

There is evidence that easily accessible, comprehensible and consistent nutrient information on the front of packaged foods could assist shoppers to make healthier food choices. This study used an online questionnaire of 4357 grocery shoppers to examine Australian shoppers' ability to use a range of front-of-pack labels to identify healthier food products. Seven different front-of-pack labelling schemes comprising variants of the Traffic Light labelling scheme and the Percentage Daily Intake scheme, and a star rating scheme, were applied to nine pairs of commonly purchased food products. Participants could also access a nutrition information panel for each product. Participants were able to identify the healthier product in each comparison over 80% of the time using any of the five schemes that provided information on multiple nutrients. No individual scheme performed significantly better in terms of shoppers' ability to determine the healthier product, shopper reliance on the 'back-of-pack' nutrition information panel, and speed of use. The scheme that provided information about energy only and a scheme with limited numerical information of nutrient type or content performed poorly, as did the nutrition information panel alone (control). Further consumer testing is necessary to determine the optimal format and content of an interpretive front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

King L.,University of Sydney | Watson W.L.,Cancer Council New South Wales | Chapman K.,Cancer Council New South Wales | Kelly B.,University of Sydney | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior | Year: 2012

Objective: To investigate consumers' understanding of terms commonly used to provide guidance about frequency and quantity of food consumption. Methods: A survey of 405 shoppers explored how frequently consumers thought food labeled with the terms "eat often," "eat moderately," "eat occasionally," "a sometimes food," and "an extra food" should be eaten. In a separate phase, 30 grocery buyers responded to open-ended questions about their interpretation of these terms. Results: Responses indicated significant differences in meaning between the terms. However, the specific interpretation of each term varied considerably across respondents. The qualitative research found the terms to be highly subjective, and there was a high degree of uncertainty about the meaning of the term "an extra food" in particular. Conclusions and Implications: Food frequency and descriptive terms currently used do not provide meaningful or consistent nutritional guidance. There is a need for simple, unambiguous terminology. © 2012 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Watson W.L.,Cancer Council NSW | Chapman K.,Cancer Council NSW | King L.,University of Sydney | Kelly B.,University of Sydney | And 4 more authors.
Public Health Nutrition | Year: 2013

Objective To investigate nutrition literacy among adult grocery buyers regarding energy-related labelling terms on food packaging. Design Qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys to determine shoppers' understanding of energy terms ('energy', 'calories' and 'kilojoules') and how energy terms affect perceptions of healthiness and intentions to purchase breakfast cereals, muesli bars and frozen meals. Setting Individual in-depth interviews and surveys in two metropolitan supermarkets, Sydney, Australia. Subjects Australian adults (interview n 40, survey n 405) aged 18-79 years. Results The relationship between energy and perceived healthiness of food varied by product type: higher energy breakfast cereals were perceived to be healthier, while lower energy frozen meals were seen as healthier choices. Likewise, intentions to purchase the higher energy product varied according to product type. The primary reason stated for purchasing higher energy products was for sustained energy. Participants from households of lower socio-economic status were significantly more likely to perceive higher energy products as healthier. From the qualitative interviews, participants expressed uncertainty about their understanding of kilojoules, while only 40 % of participants in intercept surveys correctly answered that kilojoules and calories measured the same thing. Conclusions Australian consumers have a poor understanding of energy and kilojoules and tend to perceive higher energy products as healthier and providing sustained energy. This has implications regarding the usefulness of industry front-of-pack labelling initiatives and quick service restaurant menu labelling that provides information on energy content only. Comprehensive and widely communicated education campaigns will be essential to guide consumers towards healthier choices. © 2012 The Authors.

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