A new poll -- conducted before the FDA's redesign was revealed -- released from Heart+Mind Strategies, shows the single most beneficial change to the nutrition label to be a radical design change as opposed to what information is shared. Nearly one third of Americans (32%) reported creating a star or check system for each food (where more stars means a healthier food) would be the most beneficial to them personally.
Additionally, some of the least beneficial changes are ones on which the new nutrition label is focused, such as the increased emphasis on calories and revised serving size calculations. Full ranking of changes tested follows:
- Creating a star or check system for each food (32%)
- Separating out good fats from bad fats (19%)
- Ditching the metric system (14%)
- Separating out natural sugar from added sugar (14%)
- Calculations based on larger serving sizes (12%)
- Enhanced focus on calories (7%)
- Listing added wheat (3%)
Notably all changes tested in the poll were public recommendations by a variety of experts, organizations and individuals.
Incorporating a star or check rating system was recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which was commissioned by Congress to study nutrition labeling issues over the past couple of years. It is strikingly similar to other successful labeling efforts from the government such as Energy Star, the 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicle crashes and the Monroney Sticker for vehicle fuel efficiency ratings.
"People are always looking for a quick, reliable way to digest a lot of complex information," said Heart+Mind Strategies CEODee Allsop, Ph.D. and research consultant on two government labeling projects. He continued, "In point-of-sale environments from the car dealership to the grocery isle, a picture really is worth a thousand words and enhances consumer confidence in the decision-making process."
According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, more than 60% of Americans use the nutrition fact label when deciding to purchase food. Yet Heart+Mind Strategies found just over one-quarter (28%) report the nutrition label as being themost important decision-making influencer when buying food: taste is the leader (39%) and price just barely trails nutrition (26%).
When it comes to food and diet in general, Americans are predominantly focused on what they put in their bodies (70%) as opposed to what they keep out (30%). And more than half the country (53%) considers themselves the best judge on whether or not a food is right or wrong for them. Importantly, the nutrition label has the second most influence on that diagnosis (41%), while a doctor's recommendations bear relatively little weight on that decision at all (6%).
This report presents the findings of a survey conducted among a sample of 1,005 adults comprising 502 men and 503 women 18 years of age and older.
The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older. This survey was live on February 18-20, 2014.