OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact front-of-package nutrition labels (FOPLs) have on decision-making abilities among low-income parents in a virtual supermarket.
DESIGN: A 4-by-2 experimental design with 3 FOPLs (summary, nutrient-specific, hybrid) and a no-FOPL comparison. Within the FOPL condition, participants either shopped with a time limit (10 minutes) or with no time limit.
SETTING: A web-based, 3-dimensional virtual supermarket.
PARTICIPANTS: Parents (n = 1,452) from low-income households with at least 1 child aged 4-12 years.
MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURED: Index derived from the United Kingdom's Nutrient Profiling Model that summarized the overall nutrient profile of the participant's shopping basket.
ANALYSIS: Analysis of covariance with post hoc estimations (pairwise) of condition means adjusted for multiple comparisons.
RESULTS: All FOPLs led to healthier nutrient profiles than the no-FOPL condition (P < .001). Simple FOPLs (ie, summary, hybrid) led to healthier nutrient profiles than nutrient-specific FOPLs (P = .02 and P < .001, respectively). Among parents exposed to simple FOPLs, those under time pressure made less healthy choices than those who were not under time pressure (P = .05 and P = .03, respectively). Time pressure did not affect parents exposed to nutrient-specific FOPLs (P = .69).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Front-of-package nutrition labels can aid parents in selecting healthier products. Simple FOPLs provide greater utility for selecting healthier products than FOPLs that present an array of nutrient information. Time pressure can influence how parents interact with different types of label information.