Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

An objective examination of consumer perception of nutrition information based on healthiness ratings and eye movements

Gary Jonesa1 c1 and Miles Richardsona2

a1 Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, Burton Street, Nottingham, NG1 4BU, UK

a2 Centre for Psychological Research in Health and Cognition, University of Derby, Chevin Avenue, Mickleover, Derby, DE3 9GX, UK


Objective Previous research on nutrition labelling has mainly used subjective measures. This study examines the effectiveness of two types of nutrition label using two objective measures: eye movements and healthiness ratings.

Design Eye movements were recorded while participants made healthiness ratings for two types of nutrition label: standard and standard plus the Food Standards Agency's ‘traffic light’ concept.

Setting University of Derby, UK.

Subjects A total of 92 participants (mean age 31.5 years) were paid for their participation. None of the participants worked in the areas of food or nutrition.

Results For the standard nutrition label, participant eye movements lacked focus and their healthiness ratings lacked accuracy. The traffic light system helped to guide the attention of the consumer to the important nutrients and improved the accuracy of the healthiness ratings of nutrition labels.

Conclusions Consumers have a lack of knowledge regarding how to interpret nutrition information for standard labels. The traffic light concept helps to ameliorate this problem by indicating important nutrients to which to pay attention.

(Received February 07 2006)

(Accepted July 13 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email