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“Traffic Light” Nutritional Labeling Leads To More Healthful Food Buying

March 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
German researchers have found that “traffic light” symbols – red, green, yellow – on food labels effectively help shoppers make healthful product choices. For the study, 35 adults (19 women) were shown 100 food products while lying in a brain scanner. Products showed nutritional information in familiar form (numbers, ingredients) or in traffic light format, with green signifying the lowest percentage of fat, salt or sugar. Participants indicated how much they would pay for each product. They were willing to pay significantly more money for the same product when the traffic light label was "green" compared to an information-based label. But if the label was "red," the willingness to pay dropped more compared to the conventional label.
Laura Enax et al., "Nutrition labels influence value computation of food products in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. ", Obesity, March 23, 2015, © The Obesity Society
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