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Public Health Nutr. 2016 Aug;19(12):2135-48. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015003183. Epub 2015 Nov 9.

Correlates of nutrition label use among college students and young adults: a review.

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1Department of Kinesiology and Community Health,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,Urbana,IL,USA.
2Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,321 Mumford Hall,1301 W. Gregory Drive,Urbana,IL 61801,USA.



Nutrition labels are an essential source for consumers to obtain nutrition-related information on food products and serve as a population-level intervention with unparalleled reach. The present study systematically reviewed existing evidence on the correlates of nutrition label use among college students and young adults.


Keyword and reference searches were conducted in PubMed, EBSCO, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library and Web of Science. Inclusion criteria included: study design (randomized controlled trial, cohort study, pre-post study or cross-sectional study); population (college students and young adults 18-30 years old); main outcome (nutrition label use); article type (peer-reviewed publication); and language (English).




College students and young adults.


Sixteen studies based on data from college surveys in four countries (USA, UK, Canada, South Korea) were identified from keyword and reference search. Reported prevalence of nutrition label use varied substantially across studies; a weighted average calculation showed 36ยท5 % of college students and young adults reported using labels always or often. Females were more likely to use nutrition labels than males. Nutrition label use was found to be associated with attitudes towards healthy diet, beliefs on the importance of nutrition labels in guiding food selection, self-efficacy, and nutrition knowledge and education.


The impact of nutrition labelling on food purchase and intake could differ by population subgroups. Nutrition awareness campaigns and education programmes may be important mechanisms for promoting nutrition label use among college students and young adults. Future research is warranted to assess the role of label use on improved dietary decisions.


Dining hall; Label use; Nutrition labels; University students; Young adults

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