Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carbohydrate claims can mislead consumers

07.09.2010
Researchers evaluate 4,320 online consumer panelists about low-carbohydrate claims

Food manufacturers advertise a variety of foods on grocery store shelves by using nutrient claims on the front of packaging. A study in the September/October issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior evaluates how consumers are interpreting certain carbohydrate-related content claims and the effects of claims on consumer perceptions of food products.

Findings from this study reveal that consumers misinterpret low carbohydrate claims to have health benefits and weight loss qualities beyond their nutrition facts.

In the early 2000s, low-carbohydrate claims gained huge popularity in response to such books as Dr. Atkin's New Diet Revolution and The South Beach Diet. In a study published in AC Nielsen Consumer Insights, it was noted that there was a 516% sales increase in low-carbohydrate food products from 2001 to 2005 showing that front of package claims can play a large part in consumer decisions.

Existing research suggests that consumers are less likely to turn to the back of a package to look at the Nutrition Facts panel when there is a claim on the front of the package. In the new study, researchers at the United States Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition sought to determine whether low-carbohydrate claims might lead consumers to perceive products to have benefits that are not necessarily related to being low in carbohydrate. Using an online questionnaire, 4,320 consumer panelists rated products for their perceived healthfulness, helpfulness for weight management, and caloric content based on front-of-package-only conditions (nutrition claims versus no nutrition claims) and availability of Nutrition Facts panels.

This study documents that in the absence of Nutrition Facts panels, "low-carbohydrate claims led to more favorable perceptions about products' helpfulness for weight management, healthfulness, and caloric content. Because an individual packaged food product's usefulness for weight management as part of an overall diet, its healthfulness, and total calorie content are not dependent solely on the amount of total carbohydrate it contains, the study demonstrated that consumers could misattribute benefits to products that claim to be low in carbohydrate."

However, the researchers found that when the Nutrition Facts panels are available "participants' perceptions became more consistent with the nutrition profile of the products…By showing the claims and the NF [nutrition facts] side-by-side, both pieces of information were equally accessible to participants as they answered the study questions. The presence of the NF, however, allowed participants to use this more diagnostic information to judge the product."

One limitation mentioned in this study by Dr. Judith Labiner-Wolfe, former consumer science specialist at the United States Food and Drug Administration (now an evaluation specialist at the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health) and colleagues is that "the online venue for viewing the stimuli and answering the study questions may have fewer distractions than situations in which consumers make real product judgments, such as in a busy grocery store. Therefore, this study may overestimate the effect of the Nutrition Facts panel. Findings from this research are consistent with previous experimental studies that found participants misattribute health benefits to products with claims and that nutrition information has an independent effect on perceptions." The authors' state, "although exposure to the Nutrition Facts has the potential for mitigating inappropriate benefits attributed to products claiming to be low carbohydrate, previous consumer research suggests that when a food product carries a front-of-package claim, consumers are less likely to turn the package over to look at the Nutrition Facts panel."

Within the article, the researchers emphasize the important role nutrition educators have in helping consumers better understand the limited meaning of front- of- package claims and to further emphasize the importance of using the Nutrition Facts panel when making food choices.

The article is "Effect of Low-carbohydrate Claims on Consumer Perceptions about Food Products' Healthfulness and Helpfulness for Weight Management" by Judith Labiner-Wolfe, PhD; Chung-Tung Jordan Lin, PhD; and Linda Verrill, PhD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 42, Issue 5 (September/October 2010) published by Elsevier.

Nancy Burns | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elsevier.com

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>