A pan-European study by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) that will be announced at the First European Food Congress in Slovenia on 8 November, presents food for thought, for those who provide citizens with advice and support on diet and healthy lifestyles.
The study, which questioned some 17,300 people in France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sweden and the UK, both in supermarkets and at home, found that on average only 18% of Europeans (ranges from 27% in UK to 9% in France) regularly look for nutrition information on food packaging In store.
Independent market research agencies carried out the field work in each country. Results showed that the better established forms of nutrition information on labels such as the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) scheme, was widely recognised and understood by shoppers.
“While there are several nutrition labelling schemes across Europe, our findings show that people recognise them and generally know how to use them to make informed nutrition choices”, commented Professor Klaus Grunert of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, who conducted the study for EUFIC. “Nutrition labelling should be seen as a key element in a rounded public health strategy.”Real life in-store behaviour
Colour coded schemes such as traffic lights also met with high levels of awareness but were open to some misinterpretation as people tended to exaggerate the meaning of the colour-coded levels, with 73% of people believing that a ‘red’ light indicated they should avoid eating a product.
Sweden, which uses a keyhole logo to identify the healthier product in a food category, had the highest awareness of any labelling system at 95%. Subjective and actual understanding of the system was also the highest, usage was lower. Notably, 61% of shoppers said they would look for other information even if the keyhole logo was present.
Consumers were, fairly confident that they understood the labelling systems. This was well-founded, because across all countries, at least half could correctly solve a number of tasks involving interpretation of GDA and other nutrition information on labels.
A new finding was that people spend an average of 30 seconds selecting a product. By comparison to previous studies, this is substantially more time than previously observed. The UK was lowest at 25 seconds per product, and Hungary the highest with a full 47 seconds.
Shoppers are most likely to look for nutrition information when buying yogurts, breakfast cereals and ready meals. Convenience and health clearly played a role in purchasing decisions, while taste was the most important deciding factor across all categories in most countries.Labelling of key nutrients
When given a realistic choice set of three products within the same category, including all package information, more than 70% can correctly identify the most healthy product in France, Germany, and the UK, and still about 50% in Hungary, Poland and Sweden. These figures do not seem to be influenced by which labelling scheme is adopted on the packaging. Calories and fat levels drove healthier choices, but salt and saturated fat levels were largely ignored. Younger consumers were better at finding the right answers, and people with more nutrition knowledge gave more correct answers.
Higher socio-economic status positively impacted upon looking for nutrition information and the level of nutrition knowledge.Getting it right and getting it wrong – over & under estimations
When they got the answer wrong, respondents consistently over-exaggerated actual levels . Similarly, all countries over-estimated the calorie content of alcoholic drinks.
Across Europe, people tended to significantly underestimate the calories (energy) expended by everyday activities. Just 28% of Swedish and 11% of Polish consumers accurately stated the number of calories expended in a brisk walk.
46% or less answered correctly when asked how many calories the average adult needs per day. Women fared slightly better than men, with the lowest scores being recorded among French men – just 22% knew how many calories they should consume in one day, and Hungarian women – just 29% answered correctly. Most Europeans knew that men need more calories than women and that seniors need fewer calories, but worryingly over a third of respondents, and over half in Poland, think that children need more calories than an adult man, raising public health questions about portion sizes and over-feeding in relation to childhood obesity.Broader nutrition messages are being understood but still confusion about fats
Knowledge of consuming more Omega 3 fatty acids ranged from 47% (Poland) to 88% (Sweden). However, mono-unsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats seem less understood, with under half of all respondents correctly thinking they should consume more. Over 60% state you should eat less or try to avoid trans fat (TFA), and 68% for saturated fat.
Commenting on the overall findings, Professor Klaus Grunert explained “I am surprised that the average European consumer spends 30 seconds selecting a food product. However, looking for nutrition information is not top of mind for most consumers.”
Laura Smillie | alfa
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences