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Prev Med. 2009 Jan;48(1):25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.10.011. Epub 2008 Oct 26.

A randomized trial of a brief multimedia intervention to improve comprehension of food labels.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, 10010, USA.



Food label use is associated with better food choices, an essential part of the management of many chronic diseases. Previous studies suggest lack of comprehension of food labels. We studied a multimedia intervention to improve food label comprehension in a sample of low income patients in New York City.


This randomized study took place at Gouverneur Healthcare Services from 2005 until 2007. The intervention group (n=29) received a Nutrition Facts Label pocket card and viewed a video explaining card use. The control group (n=27) received written materials. Participants completed a 12-item pre- and post-intervention nutrition food label quiz. Quiz scores were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance.


The intervention group had greater improvement on the quiz than the control group (p<0.001). There was a three way interaction by time with health literacy and treatment group where the greatest improvement occurred in patients with adequate health literacy in the intervention group (p<0.05). There was no improvement in patients with limited health literacy.


A multimedia intervention is an effective way to improve short-term food label comprehension in patients with adequate health literacy. Further research is necessary to improve understanding of food labels in patients with limited health literacy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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