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Title: Enhanced Nutrition Communications - Mailing the Best of Food Labels
Author: Mackison, Dionne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2692 9248
Awarding Body: University of Dundee
Current Institution: University of Dundee
Date of Award: 2010
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Food labels are considered fundamental in communicating nutrition information and can assist consumers to make informed dietary choices. Recent legislative developments within the European Union (EU) have put food labelling high on the policy agenda with commentators calling into question how best to deliver nutrition communication to guide healthy food choices in the retail setting. In addition, the provision of nutrition information in catering outlets is currently being explored in the United Kingdom (UK). The current study examines the British consumers' use, perception and comprehension of nutrition information provision in retail and catering settings. The study methodology comprised of a short postal questionnaire (distributed across the UK) and eight focus group discussions (FGOs) (conducted in Scotland). The questionnaire was designed following a literature review of the topic area. Content validity, face validity, item analysis, readability, repeat and internal reliability were assessed and indicated the questionnaire was a valid and reliable instrument. The final tool contained 19 questions (49 items) and assessed frequency of reading food labels, perceived importance of food labels, regularity of dining out, desire to have nutrition information at catering outlets and ability to perform nutrition information tasks. The questionnaire was distributed to a sample representative of gender, age, country of residence and social background for the UK population. Responses from 786 adults indicated that the majority (>90%) of respondents read food labels, with 53.4% reportedly reading nutrition information on food labels 'frequently'. Ability to perform nutrition label tasks was good with 61.3% obtaining a high label performance score. Eating outside the home was common (42.0% reported eating out once a week or more and 75.3% reported eating out once a month or more). Respondents claimed to welcome nutrition information in the catering arena.FGDswere informed by the questionnaire results and conducted to elicit a detailed perspective on label comprehension and usage. A non-probabilistic sampling strategy was employed with participants purposively recruited to include those from the most and least deprived locations. Pre-existing groups (e.g. church, parent and community groups) were recruited across Scotland, with a combination of analytic frameworks utilised for data analysis. Findings from the FGDsindicated that motivation (to read labels and eat a healthy diet) was a key determinant of nutrition label reading behaviour. Knowledge of nutrition, time pressures and label reading practicalities were reported barriers to reading and using food labels. The impact of product price on label reading behaviour varied between affluent and non-affluent groups. Participants who used labels described doing so to make 'healthier' food choices and compare similar products. Lack of motivation to eat a healthy diet and interest yvere common reasons cited by participants for non-label use. The introduction of nutrition information in the catering setting received a mixed response. Many participants expressed concerns about the impact of nutrition information on their dining experience, others however accepted nutrition information could be of benefit to those consumers dining out frequently. In conclusion, a range of approaches can be identified to enhance nutrition communications (e.g. the use of innovative technologies and communication platforms, the provision of tailored nutrition education interventions, and the modification and simplification of information currently provided) although impact will be influenced by the wider marketing environment. For enhanced nutrition communications to be successful, consumers first need to be motivated to eat a healthy diet and to read and use nutrition information available on food labels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available