Public Health Nutrition


The role of health-related, motivational and sociodemographic aspects in predicting food label use: a comprehensive study

Rebecca Hessa1 c1, Vivianne HM Visschersa1 and Michael Siegrista1

a1 Consumer Behavior, Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, Universitaetstrasse 22, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland


Objective Previous studies focused on a limited number of determinants of food label use. We therefore tested a comprehensive model of food label use consisting of sociodemographic, health-related and motivating variables. These three predictor groups were chosen based on the previous literature and completed with new predictors not yet examined in a comprehensive study of frequency of label use.

Design We sent questionnaires to a random sample of households in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Setting The respondents filled in the questionnaire at home and returned it by mail.

Subjects We analysed the data of 1162 filled-in questionnaires (response rate = 38 %). Of the respondents, 637 were women (55 %), and their mean age was 53·54 (sd 15·68) years.

Results Health-related variables were the most important group of predictors of label use, followed by motivating factors and sociodemographic variables. Placing importance on health, healthy eating and nutritional value of food, perceived vulnerability for diet-related diseases, nutrition knowledge, numeracy and gender were positively associated with frequency of food label use whereas shopping habits and seeing eating as something positive were negative predictors of frequency of label use.

Conclusions People's health consciousness should be raised in order to increase the frequency of food label use. Furthermore, it should be stressed that reading labels and keeping a healthy diet do not contradict ‘good eating’, and that both of these aspects can be combined with the help of food labels.

(Received July 22 2010)

(Accepted May 27 2011)

(Online publication July 14 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email