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Appetite. 2015 Sep;92:207-16. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.029. Epub 2015 May 27.

The effects of nutrition knowledge on food label use. A review of the literature.

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Department of Human Ecology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, MS-1C, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Nutrition information on food labels is an important source of nutrition information but is typically underutilized by consumers. This review examined whether consumer nutrition knowledge is important for communication of nutrition information through labels on packaged foods. A cognitive processing model posits that consumers with prior knowledge are more likely to use label information effectively, that is, focus on salient information, understand information, and make healthful decisions based on this information. Consistent with this model, the review found that nutrition knowledge provides support for food label use. However, nutrition knowledge measures varied widely in terms of the dimensions they included and the extensiveness of the assessment. Relatively few studies investigated knowledge effects on the use of ingredient lists and claims, compared to nutrition facts labels. We also found an overreliance on convenience samples relying on younger adults, limiting our understanding of how knowledge supports food label use in later life. Future research should 1) investigate which dimensions, or forms, of nutrition knowledge are most critical to food label use and dietary decision making and 2) determine whether increases in nutrition knowledge can promote great use of nutrition information on food labels.


Claims; Food label use; Ingredient lists; Nutrition knowledge; Nutrition labels

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