Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Committee Chair

Jan Murphy


Background Research shows understanding of information portrayed on nutrition facts panels is low.

Objective Nutrition facts panels were modified to increase identification of healthier label when comparing similar foods.

Design This was study was randomized. Participants, from a Midwestern University, were recruited through email for an online survey.

Participants 738 students responded (4.87% response rate) and 622 completed the entire survey.

Intervention Participants were randomly assigned one of three variations. One variation was the current nutrition facts panel. Another variation highlighted nutrients on the nutrition facts panel in traffic light colors indicating healthy, moderate, and unhealthy levels. The third variation showed the calorie-containing nutrients in pie graph from, and non-calorie containing nutrients in a bar graph representing percent daily values. Participants were shown a series of two labels within their variation and chose the healthiest one. Participants then answered demographic and nutrition related questions.

Main outcome measures Choosing the healthier label meant a correct response. Eight pairs of labels were shown, therefore eight possible correct answers.

Statistical analyses Independent t-Tests were performed to analyze differences in correct responses for modified label variations and the Current label and to identify differences between genders. One-Way ANOVA compared number of correct answers to demographic data. Linear regression analyzed relationships between age and frequency of label use.

Results The graph and traffic light variations had significantly more correct answers than the control (p= 0.00). Differences in demographic information were found in the Current label variation, not in either modified label variation.

Conclusions Modified nutrition facts panels, helped participants identify healthier labels more often. No one demographic characteristic increased likelihood of picking the healthier label in either modified variation. This is important, as the Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to enhance understanding of food labels.


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