The influence of calorie and physical activity labelling on snack and beverage choices.Appetite 2017; 112:52-58A
Much research suggests nutrition labelling does not influence lower energy food choice. This study aimed to assess the impact of physical activity based and kilocalorie (Kcal) based labels on the energy content of snack food and beverage choices made.
An independent-groups design, utilizing an online questionnaire platform tested 458 UK adults (87 men), aged 18-64 years (mean: 30 years) whose BMI ranged from 16 to 41 kg/m2 (mean: 24 kg/m2). Participants were randomized to one of four label information conditions (no label, Kcal label, physical activity label [duration of walking required to burn the Kcal in the product], Kcal and physical activity label) and were asked to choose from higher and lower energy options for a series of items.
Label condition significantly affected low vs. high-energy product selection of snack foods (p < 0.001) and beverages (p < 0.001). The physical activity label condition resulted in significantly lower energy snack and beverage choices than the Kcal label condition (p < 0.001). This effect was found across the full sample and persisted even when participants' dietary restraint, BMI, gender, socioeconomic status, habitual physical activity, calorie and numerical literacy were controlled.
The provision of physical activity information appeared most effective in influencing the selection of lower Kcal snack food and beverage items, when compared with no information or Kcal information. These findings could inform the debate around potential legislative policies to facilitate healthier nutritional choices at a population level.