Hersey JC, Wohlgenant KC, Arsenault J, Kosa KM, Muth MK. Effects of front-of-package and shelf nutrition labeling systems on consumers. Nutr Rev. 2013 Jan;71(1):1-14. doi: 10.1111/nure.12000

As standards are considered for nutrition front-of-package (FOP) and shelf-labeling systems in the United States, it is important to know what types of systems are most effective in conveying scientifically accurate and useful information to consumers. A systematic literature review identified 38 empirical studies on consumer response to FOP nutrition labeling and shelf labeling. Studies indicate that consumers can more easily interpret and select healthier products with nutrient-specific FOP nutrition labels that incorporate text and symbolic color to indicate nutrient levels rather than nutrient-specific labels that only emphasize numeric information, such as Guideline Daily Amounts expressed as percentages and/or grams. Summary systems may influence consumers to purchase healthier products. However, more research is needed to assess the influence of nutrient-specific labels on consumers' purchases. This review identified few studies that compared consumers' ability to select healthier products using nutrient-specific systems that incorporate text and color codes with multiple-level summary icons. More research is needed to determine the effects of FOP nutrition labeling on consumers' actual shopping behaviors and dietary intakes.

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