Confused by whole grain labels on food packaging? Study finds you’re not alone



Confused by whole grain labels on food packaging? Study finds you're not alone
Credit: Tufts University

Whole grain labels on cereal, bread, and crackers are complicated to shoppers and will trigger them to make fewer wholesome decisions, based on the outcomes of a examine that examined whether or not persons are in a position select the more healthy, whole grain choice primarily based on food package deal labels.

The examine, led by researchers on the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and NYU School of Global Public Health, is revealed immediately in Public Health Nutrition. The researchers say the findings might assist result in enhancements in food labeling.

A pool of 1,030 U.S. adults, consultant of the inhabitants, responded to a survey with images of each hypothetical and actual merchandise. The images confirmed the merchandise, with varied whole grain labels on the entrance of the package deal, together with the diet info label and elements record for every product. Participants had been requested to establish the more healthy choice (for the hypothetical merchandise) or assess the whole grain content material (for the true merchandise).

  • For the hypothetical merchandise, 29-47% of respondents answered incorrectly (particularly, 31% incorrectly for cereal, 29-37% for crackers, 47% for bread).
  • For actual merchandise that had been not largely composed of whole grains, 43-51% of respondents overstated the whole grain content material (particularly, 41% overstated for multigrain crackers, 43% for honey wheat bread, and 51% for 12-grain bread). Consumers extra precisely said the whole grain content material for an oat cereal product that actually was largely composed of whole grain.

“Our study results show that many consumers cannot correctly identify the amount of whole grains or select a healthier whole grain product. Manufacturers have many ways to persuade you that a product has whole grain even if it doesn’t. They can tell you it’s multigrain or they can color it brown, but those signals do not really indicate the whole grain content,” stated first writer Parke Wilde, a food economist and professor on the Friedman School.

The packages on the hypothetical merchandise both had no front-of-package whole grain or had been marked with “multigrain,” “made with whole grains,” or a whole grain stamp. The packages on the true merchandise displayed the precise product markings, together with “multigrain,” “honey wheat,” and “12 grain.”

The examine purpose was to evaluate whether or not client misunderstanding of the labels meets a authorized customary for enhanced U.S. labeling necessities for whole grain merchandise. The authorized customary pertains to misleading promoting, and proof that the labels are literally deceptive—or more likely to mislead—shoppers can bolster help for rules.

“With the results of this study, we have a strong legal argument that whole grain labels are misleading in fact. I would say when it comes to deceptive labels, ‘whole grain’ claims are among the worst. Even people with advanced degrees cannot figure out how much whole grain is in these products,” stated co-author Jennifer L. Pomeranz, assistant professor of public well being coverage and administration at NYU School of Global Public Health.

Previous analysis has proven disparities in whole grain consumption within the United States, together with for instance, decrease consumption for adolescents than for adults, and decrease consumption for individuals within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than for higher-income non-participants. The authors of the brand new examine discovered that customers who had been youthful, had much less training, had been Black or African American, or reported having issue understanding food labels had been extra more likely to reply incorrectly within the take a look at involving hypothetical merchandise.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate that half of all grains consumed needs to be whole grains. Adequate consumption of whole grains has been linked with decreased danger of coronary heart illness, sort 2 diabetes, and most cancers.

“A large chunk of Americans’ daily calories—42 percent—comes from low quality carbohydrates. Consuming more whole can help change that, but the policy challenge is to provide consumers with clear labels in order to make those healthier choices,” stated co-senior writer Fang Fang Zhang, diet epidemiologist on the Friedman School.

Limitations of the examine embody the truth that larger training respondents had been reasonably over-represented, which implies the outcomes are conservative. Also, a proper response fee to the survey can’t be calculated as a result of individuals had been a part of ongoing survey panels and volunteered to reply.

Why whole grains are the healthier choice

More data:
Parke Wilde et al, Consumer confusion about wholegrain content material and healthfulness in product labels: a discrete alternative experiment and comprehension evaluation, Public Health Nutrition (2020). DOI: 10.1017/S1368980020001688

Provided by
Tufts University

Confused by whole grain labels on food packaging? Study finds you’re not alone (2020, August 10)
retrieved 10 August 2020

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