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

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11 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


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

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