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Warning Labels on Food Products Effective in Influencing Healthier Choices in India: Study

A study conducted in India tested the consumer acceptability, reliability, and understandability of five different front-of-pack nutrition label (FOPNL) formats. The formats tested were Nutri-Score, Health Star Rating, Warning Labels, Multiple Traffic Lights, and Nutri-Star Rating.

Stuti Das
Study conducted conveyed front labeling lets customer take more effective decisions
Study conducted conveyed front labeling lets customer take more effective decisions

The study by the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition aimed to assess the acceptability and potential use of various front-of-pack nutrition label formats in promoting informed food choices. The study was conducted with a sample of 3,231 participants from five regions in India, and it tested five different label formats, including the Nutri-Score and Health Star Rating.

The results showed that "warning labels," which provide information about the potential hazards of a product and highlight the presence of unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, salt, and fat, deterred more people from choosing moderately healthy or unhealthy options. On the other hand, "summary labels," which provide a brief overview of a product's key features and benefits and may include information about both positive and negative nutrients, made those options seem healthier.

The study also found that a low percentage of participants read the nutrition information on the labels, but a higher percentage checked symbols such as vegetarian/non-vegetarian or quality symbols. The findings of this study highlight the importance of considering the type of front-of-pack labeling used in a country, as the decision should be based on local research, regional and global evidence, and each country's specific objectives for developing a FOPL policy. The results also suggest that symbol-based front-of-pack labels are likely to be well-received by the population in India, as these symbols are easily recognizable and require minimal cognitive effort to understand.

It emphasizes the crucial role that front-of-pack nutrition labels can play in promoting informed food choices and improving public health outcomes. The results suggest that effective front-of-pack labeling should provide clear, concise information about a product's key features and benefits, and highlight any potential hazards associated with its consumption. These labels should be designed with the specific needs and preferences of local populations in mind, and their effectiveness should be regularly assessed and evaluated to ensure that they are meeting their intended goals.

The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of different front-of-pack nutrition label (FOPNL) formats in conveying nutrition information to consumers and influencing their food choices. The five FOPNL formats tested were Nutri-Score, which is currently in use in Europe, Health Star Rating, used in Australia, Warning Labels, Multiple Traffic Lights, and Nutri-Star Rating.

The study was conducted among 3,231 participants from five regions of India, and it was found that the percentage of participants who read nutrition information was low, but those who checked vegetarian/non-vegetarian symbols and quality symbols was higher.

The study also noted that the FOPNL formats used were displayed on different variants of the same food product, which allowed for responses to be based solely on the understanding of the FOPNL format without any preconceived perception about the healthiness of the product.

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