Figuring out food labels. Young adults' understanding of nutritional information presented on food labels is inadequate

Miri Sharf, Ruti Sela, Gary Zentner, Hanna Shoob, Iris Shai, Chen Stein-Zamir

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Scopus citations


    Nutritional labelling of packaged foods, mandated by law, includes details of the food content and composition - information that can affect individual and public lifestyle decisions and health status. We studied the comprehension of food labels among 120 young adults (mean age 24.1. years) attending an international travel immunization clinic. Each participant was presented with 10 food packages of common local products and was interviewed regarding the label's content. Most subjects (77.5%) reported that they took note of the food labels; women, the more educated and those engaging regularly in physical exercise were more inclined to do so. Out of a possible 10 points the overall median comprehension score was 6.0 (mean 5.7 ± 1.8). The nutritional table section of the food label was understood the best, and the nutritional declaration section the least. The subjects thought they understood the food labels better than they actually did; 43.9% stated that they understood them very well, whereas only 27.2% achieved high scores. This inadequate comprehension of food labels represents a missed opportunity to provide essential information necessary for healthy food choices at the individual level. A combination of strategies is necessary, including improving food labels (simplification and standardization) combined with targeted educational programs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)531-534
    Number of pages4
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Apr 2012


    • Food labels
    • Health education
    • Health promotion
    • Nutrition information
    • Nutritional labelling legislation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology (all)
    • Nutrition and Dietetics


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