Nutrition Facts Panels: Who Uses Them, What Do They Use, and How Does Use Relate to Dietary Intake?

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25 Scopus citations


Background: Nutrition labels are a low-cost tool with the potential to encourage healthy eating habits. Objective: To investigate correlates of frequent Nutrition Facts label use, describe the types of label information most often used, and measure how label use relates to dietary intake in young adults. Design: Cross-sectional population-based study of young adults participating in Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults-IV. Participants/setting: Surveys and food frequency questionnaires were completed during 2015-2016 by young adults (N=1,817; weighted sample=49% women) aged 25 to 36 years. Main outcome measures: Nutrition Facts label use, frequency of using specific information on labels, and dietary intake. Statistical analyses performed: Relative risks and adjusted means were used to examine how demographic, behavior, and weight-related factors were associated with Nutrition Facts panel use, and how label use related to dietary outcomes. Associations with P values <0.05 were considered statistically significant. Results: Approximately one-third (31.4%) of participants used Nutrition Facts labels “frequently.” Use was significantly higher for women; for participants with high education and income; among those who prepared food regularly; among those who were physically active; among those with a weight status classified as overweight; and among those who were trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight. Label components used most often included sugars (74.1%), total calories (72.9%), serving size (67.9%), and the ingredient list (65.8%). Nutrition Facts label users consumed significantly more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, compared with nonusers. Nutrition Facts label users ate significantly more frequently at sit-down restaurants but less frequently at fast-food restaurants compared with nonusers. Conclusions: Although Nutrition Facts label use was associated with markers of better dietary quality in a population-based sample of young adults, only one-third of participants used labels frequently. Methods to improve label use should be studied, particularly through leveraging weight- or health-related goals (eg, interest in making healthier food choices), and meeting consumer preferences concerning label content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT This study was supported by grant no. R01HL116892 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health. M. J. Christoph is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care (grant no. T32HP22239 ). This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the US government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Diet
  • Dietary intake
  • Nutrition Facts
  • Nutrition labels
  • Young adults


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