People look at labels less than they think

Oct. 25, 2011 at 7:05 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Consumers think they look at food labels more than they actually do, University of Minnesota researchers suggest.

Study investigators Dan J. Graham and Robert W. Jeffrey said study findings suggest consumers have a finite attention span for Nutrition Facts labels, but although most consumers viewed labels, very few consumers viewed every component on any label.

In a simulated grocery shopping exercise, 203 participants observed 64 grocery products displayed on a computer monitor, the researchers said.

Each screen contained three elements, the current Nutrition Facts label, a picture and list of ingredients, and a description of the product with price and quantity information, the researchers said.

Participants were aware that their eye movements would be tracked, but unaware that the study focus was nutrition information, the researchers explained.

The study, to be published in the November Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found 33 percent of participants said they almost always look at calorie content on Nutrition Facts labels, 31 percent said they almost always look at the total fat content 20 percent said the same for trans-fat content, 24 percent for sugar content, and 26 percent for serving size.

However, only 9 percent actually looked at calorie count for almost all of the products in the study and about 1 percent of participants looked at each of these other components -- total fat, trans fat, sugar, and serving size -- on almost all labels, the study said.

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