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HE&B 259 August: Evaluating the Impact of U.S. Food and Drug Administration–Proposed Nutrition Facts Label Changes on Young Adults’ Visual Attention and Purchase Intentions



Dan J. Graham and Christina A. Roberto

Health Education & Behavior 2016, Vol. 43(4) 389–398


Background. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed modifying the Nutrition Facts Label (NFL) on food packages to increase consumer attention to this resource and to promote healthier dietary choices. Aims. The present study sought to determine whether the proposed NFL changes will affect consumer attention to the NFL or purchase intentions. Method. This study compared purchase intentions (yes/no responses to “would you purchase this food?” for 64 products) and attention to NFLs (measured via high-speed eye-tracking camera) among 155 young adults randomly assigned to view products with existing versus modified NFLs. Attention to all individual components of the NFL (e.g., calories, fats, sugars) were analyzed separately to assess the impact of each proposed NFL modification on attention to that region. Data were collected in 2014; analysis was conducted in 2015. Results. Modified NFLs did not elicit significantly more visual attention or lead to more healthful purchase intentions than did existing NFLs. Relocating the percent daily value component from the right side of the NFL to the left side, as proposed by the FDA, actually reduced participants’ attention to this information. The proposed “added sugars” component was viewed on at least one label by a majority (58%) of participants. Discussion. Results suggest that the proposed NFL changes may not achieve FDA’s goals. Changes to nutrition labeling may need to take a different form to meaningfully influence dietary behavior. Conclusion. Young adults’ visual attention and purchase intentions do not appear to be meaningfully affected by the proposed NFL modifications.

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