Obesity continues to be a growing health threat. In fact, a 2008 study estimated that by the year 2030, 85% of all Americans will be overweight, and more than 50% of adults will be obese. Nutrition labels can act as an important aid in helping consumers eat healthier, and have been found to decrease daily intake of calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and to increase intake of fiber. But many consumers don’t understand the nutrition labels on the products they buy, and a large percentage of them don’t read the labels at all. The question is why?
Researchers at the University of Minnesota set out to discover if nutrition facts labels are optimally designed to help consumers make healthier food choices. More specifically, they looked at how the locations of components on nutrition labels relate to a consumer’s viewing of the labels and individual components of the labels.
To do this, researchers designed a simulated grocery shopping experience on a computer and applied eye-tracking technology to precisely measure viewing habits. While eye-tracking research is still in its early stages, this study sought to build on existing research by asking specific questions related to label use.