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Evidence synthesis on the impact of front-of-package, shelf, and menu labelling for obesity and chronic disease prevention

The Issue

Nutrition labelling is an important policy strategy for providing consumers with nutrition information (1-4). In recent years, labelling formats such as Front-of-Package (FOP),  shelf, and menu labeling have emerged as potential policy tools for increasing use of labelling and access to nutrition information (3, 5). With this in mind, the aim of this synthesis is to summarize the literature on the impact of front-of-package (FOP), shelf, and menu labelling, with the goal of informing policy action for obesity and chronic disease prevention.

Key Findings

  • FOP and shelf labelling are promising policy options to increase uptake of nutrition information and help consumers make healthier choices. However, more research is needed to compare different labelling systems and format combinations (1, 6, 7).
  • Reviews reported relatively weak impacts for menu labelling, with effectiveness varying across population sub-groups (8-10). A number of reviews highlighted menu labeling as a cost-effective and feasible policy option (8, 11).
  • There is a need for more rigorous research examining the impact of FOP, shelf, and menu labelling, particularly in real world settings and in a Canadian context. 

References

  1. Cecchini, M. and L. Warin, Impact of food labelling systems on food choices and eating behaviours: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized studies. Obesity Reviews, 2015.
  2. Krieger, J. and B. Saelens, Impact of menu labeling on consumer behavior: A 2008-2012 update, in Healthy Eating Research: Research Reviews, 2013, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.
  3. Campos, S., J. Doxey, and D. Hammond, Nutrition labels on pre-packaged foods: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition, 2011. 14(8): p. 1496-506.
  4. Vanderlee, L., et al., The efficacy of sugar labeling formats: implications for labeling policy. Obesity, 2015. 23(12): p. 2406-2413.
  5. Hobin, E., et al., Availability, location, and format of nutrition information in fast-food chain restaurants in Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 2014. 76(1): p. 44-48.
  6. Hawley, K.L., et al., The science on front-of-package food labels.Public Health Nutrition, 2013. 16(3): p. 430-9.
  7. Koehler, K., et al., Policy research for front of package nutrition labeling: environmental scan and literature review, 2011, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation: Washington, DC.
  8. Long, M.W., et al., Systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of restaurant menu calorie labeling. American Journal of Public Health, 2015.105(5): p. e11-24.
  9. Kiszko, K.M., et al., The influence of calorie labeling on food orders and consumption: a review of the literature. Journal of Community Health, 2014.39(6): p. 1248-69.
  10. Kreiger, J. and B. Saelens, Impact of menu labeling on consumer behavior: a 2008-2012 update. a research review, in Healthy Eating Research: Research Reviews, 2013, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.
  11. Morestin, F., et al., Public policies on nutrition labelling: effects and implementation issues – a knowledge synthesis, 2011, National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy.
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