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A Randomized Trial Testing the Efficacy of Modifications to the Nutrition Facts Table on Comprehension and use of Nutrition Information by Adolescents and Young Adults in Canada

December 2015

E. Hobin, J. Sacco, L. Vanderlee, C. M. White, F. Zuo, J. Sheeshka, G. McVey, M. Fodor O'Brien, D. Hammond


This trial examines mechanisms for improving young consumers’ abilities to understand and compare food nutrition labels. Participants (aged 16-24) in the experiment were randomly assigned into six experimental groups, each viewing different nutrition labels. Each group was assessed on their ability to correctly interpret labels and compare products. Results indicate that consumers were much more successful in comparing similar products when standardized serving sizes are used. Additionally, consumers more readily interpret labels when explanatory information and color coding is added to “percent daily value” of calories and nutrients.

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Policy Implications

Results indicate that simple improvements to nutrition label requirements, such as standardizing serving sizes, adding descriptive information, and color coding certain figures may go a long way in helping young-adults understand, compare, and interpret food labels, and thus make the process of selecting healthy alternatives easier.

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