The organisation reviewed the scientific evidence published between 2007 and March 2012 on the influence of nutrition labelling on the way people shop for food and drink. EUFIC researchers probed the public online databases Pubmed and Social Sciences Research Network for scientific publications related to nutrition labelling and obesity.
They conclude that shoppers know enough to be able to use the different labelling schemes available to identify low calorie options, but lack the motivation to take action based on that. Price, taste and brand take far more precedence in influencing shoppers’ purchasing decisions, says EUFIC.
The organisation adds: “Shopping under time pressure, a common phenomenon nowadays, seemed to further compromise the impact nutrition labels could possibly have.”
It suggested that refocusing consumers’ minds on health using health claims and logos might be one way to encourage them to take more account of nutrition labelling.
Another core finding from EUFIC’s investigation is that to date no scientific data exists from Europe to indicate the impact of nutrition labelling on body weight. However, modelling studies do exist confirming that choosing diets with a more healthy profile will result in better public health and lower healthcare costs.
“Studies into the potential impact of nutrition labelling on obesity need to include body weight measurements if they want to establish causal relationships,” says EUFIC.