Investigating the efficacy of traffic-light labeling for nutrition label presentation

Mosi Staudt Dane'el, University of Texas at El Paso


The rates of obesity and the number of overweight adults are increasing in the U.S. (Cohen, 2008). This increase is due, in part, to food over consumption (Cohen, 2008). Although nutrition labels are available for people to identify the amounts of nutrients in food, these labels are often difficult to understand (Cowburn & Stockley, 2002). To understand how people interpret nutrition labels, we conducted two studies with a total of 383 participants. For the first study, we developed and pilot tested two outcome measures for the second study. For the second study we examined how people interpret nutrition labels using a 2 (serving size) by 2 (labeling method) between-subjects design that resulted in four experimental conditions, where nutrition labels were defined as follows: (1) single-serving standard nutrition labels, (2) single-serving traffic light nutrition labels, (3) multiple-serving standard nutrition labels, and (4) multiple-serving traffic light nutrition labels. The first study had 76 participants. The second study had 307 participants. Controlling for participants' numeric ability and need for cognition, individuals in the traffic light nutrition label conditions did not show higher average Nutrition Label or Label Usage Survey scores than individuals in the standard label conditions. Participants in the single-serving conditions had higher Nutrition Label Survey and Label Usage Survey scores than participants in the multiple-serving conditions. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Staudt Dane'el, Mosi, "Investigating the efficacy of traffic-light labeling for nutrition label presentation" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1583951.