Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Which Front-of-Package Labels Help Indian Consumers Identify and Reduce Unhealthy Food Purchases? A Randomized Field Experiment

Version 1 : Received: 5 May 2022 / Approved: 6 May 2022 / Online: 6 May 2022 (04:23:49 CEST)

How to cite: Singh, S.; Taillie, L.S.; Gupta, A.; Bercholz, M.; Popkin, B.; Murukutla, N. Which Front-of-Package Labels Help Indian Consumers Identify and Reduce Unhealthy Food Purchases? A Randomized Field Experiment . Preprints 2022, 2022050058 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202205.0058.v1). Singh, S.; Taillie, L.S.; Gupta, A.; Bercholz, M.; Popkin, B.; Murukutla, N. Which Front-of-Package Labels Help Indian Consumers Identify and Reduce Unhealthy Food Purchases? A Randomized Field Experiment . Preprints 2022, 2022050058 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202205.0058.v1).

Abstract

Policies to require front-of-package labels (FOPLs) on foods may help Indian consumers better identify foods high in nutrients of concern including sugar, saturated fat, and sodium, and discourage their consumption, outcomes critical for preventing rises in diet-related non-communicable disease. The objective was to test whether FOPLs helped Indian consumers identify ‘high-in’ foods and reduce intentions to purchase them. We conducted an in-person randomized experiment (n=2,869 adults between ages 18 and 60 years old) in six states of India in 2022. Participants were randomized to one of five FOPLs: a control label (barcode), warning label (octagon with “High in [nutrient]”), Health Star Warning (HSR), Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), or traffic light label. Participants then viewed a series of foods high in sugar, saturated fat, or sodium with the assigned FOPL, and rated product perceptions and label reactions. Fewer than half of participants in the control group (39.1%) correctly identified all products high in nutrient(s) of concern. All FOPLs led to an increase in this outcome, with the biggest differences observed for the warning label (60.8%, p<0.001) followed by the traffic light label (54.8%, p<0.001), GDA (55.0%, p<0.001), and HSR (45.0%, p<0.01). Relative to the control, only the warning label led to a reduction in intentions to purchase the products. The results suggest that warning labels are the most effective FOPL to help Indian consumers identify and avoid unhealthy foods.

Keywords

warning labels; Health Star Rating; Nutriscore; GDA; food policy; obesity prevention; non-communicable diseases

Subject

BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Other

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