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J Am Diet Assoc. 1991 Jul;91(7):808-12, 815.

Review of nutrition labeling formats.

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Division of Foods and Nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112.


This article examines nutrition labeling history as well as the findings of nine research studies of nutrition labeling formats. Nutrition labeling regulations were announced in 1973 and have been periodically amended since then. In response to requests from consumers and health care professionals for revision of the labeling system, the Food and Drug Administration initiated a three-phase plan for reform of nutrition labeling in 1990. President Bush signed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in November 1990. Literature analysis revealed that only nine studies with an experimental design have focused on nutrition labeling since 1971. Four were conducted before 1975, which was the year that nutrition labeling was officially implemented, two were conducted in 1980, and three were conducted after 1986. Only two of the nine studies supported the traditional label format mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations, and one study partially supported it. Four of the nine studies that evaluated graphic presentations of nutrition information found that consumer comprehension of nutrition information was improved with a graphic format for nutrition labeling: three studies supported the use of bar graphs and one study supported the use of a pie chart. Full disclosure (ie, complete nutrient and ingredient labeling) was preferred by consumers in two of the three studies that examined this variable. The third study supported three types of information disclosure dependent upon socioeconomic class. In those studies that tested graphics, a bar graph format was significantly preferred and showed better consumer comprehension than the traditional format.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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