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Impact of Warning Labels on Reducing Health Halo Effects of Nutrient Content Claims on Breakfast Cereal Packages: A Mixed-Measures Experiment

Citation

Stoltze, Fernanda Mediano; Busey, Emily A.; Taillie, Lindsey Smith; & Carpentier, Francesca R. Dillman (Online ahead of print). Impact of Warning Labels on Reducing Health Halo Effects of Nutrient Content Claims on Breakfast Cereal Packages: A Mixed-Measures Experiment. Appetite.

Abstract

Chile recently implemented a food labeling law that requires packaged foods with sugar, saturated fats, sodium, and/or calorie content that exceeds government-defined thresholds to carry a front-of-package warning for each excessive nutrient. This law does not prohibit the use of nutrient content (NC) marketing claims on packages, as long as the claims do not directly contradict the warnings. Yet, having NC claims alongside nutrient warnings might send mixed messages confusing consumers about the overall healthiness of a product. The present study tests the co-occurrence of warning labels and NC claims in breakfast cereal packages on product perceptions and behavioral intentions of Chilean adults in a 3 (warnings: none, high calorie, high calorie/high sugar) × 3 (NC claims: none, fiber/wholegrain, low fat/cholesterol-free) mixed-measures experiment. Fiber-related claims had a main effect leading to more positive ratings of the product, compared to having no NC claims or fat-related claims. These positive ratings extended beyond perceptions of the fiber content to perceptions of overall healthiness, naturalness, quality, vitamin content, and intentions to purchase and recommend the product-a health halo effect. No significant interaction between warnings and NC claims was found. However, warnings had a main effect on perceptions irrespective of the presence of NC claims, with one warning significantly reducing ratings, dampening any halo effects, and two warnings further dampening any effects. These findings indicate that warning labels can mitigate, but not eliminate the influences of NC claims on consumer perceptions of product healthiness.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105229

Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type

Regular

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

Appetite

Author(s)

Stoltze, Fernanda Mediano
Busey, Emily A.
Taillie, Lindsey Smith
Carpentier, Francesca R. Dillman

Continent/Country

Chile