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Prevalence of reading nutrition and ingredient information on food labels among adult Americans: 1982–1988

  • Mary M. Bender
    Correspondence
    Address for correspondence: Mary M. Bender, Ph.D., Division of Consumer Studies, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 200 C Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20204.
    Affiliations
    Division of Consumer Studies, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204
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  • Brenda M. Derby
    Affiliations
    Division of Consumer Studies, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204
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      Abstract

      Comparisons of five Food and Drug Administration Health and Diet Surveys conducted in the 1980s provide estimates of the numbers of consumers who report that they pay attention to ingredient lists and nutrition labels and identify trends based on replicated measures. Recent estimates indicate that more than four out of five U.S. consumers report that they pay attention to one or both types of label information, with just under three-fourths reporting use of each individual information source. There was no net increase in consumer use of the food label ingredient list from 1982 to 1986, but use of the nutrition label increased significantly. Consumers who use both types of labels are more likely to be young (25–34), white, female, better educated, and to follow a self-initiated or doctor-prescribed low-sodium or low-cholesterol diet. Educators now face a challenge—to address remaining knowledge gaps, particularly among population groups who are less likely to use labels, and to develop practical strategies to help all consumers make more effective use of food label information in dietary management.

      Resume

      Cinq enquêtes sur la santé et l’alimentation menées par la Food and Drug Administration et effectuées entre 1982 et 1988, fournissent des estimés du nombre de consommateurs qui prêtent attention à la liste des ingrédients et à l’information nutritionelle sur les étiquettes. Aussi, la comparaison de ces enquêtes répétées permet d’identifier les tendances. Les données les plus récentes indiquent que plus de quatre consommateurs américains sur cinq rapportent qu'ils prêtent attention à l’un ou l’autre ou à ces deux types d’informations (liste des ingrédients et informations nutritionnelles) alors qu'un peu moins des trois quarts rapportent qu'ils utilisent chacune de ces sources d’informations. Il n'a pas eu d’augmentation du nombre de consommateurs utilisant la liste des ingrédients entre 1982 et 1986. Cependant, l’utilisation de l’information nutritionnelle a augmenté significativement durant cette même période. Les consommateurs qui utilisent les deux types d’informations sont plus susceptibles d’être jeunes (25–34), de race blanche, de sexe féminin, mieux éduqués et de suivre un régime réduit en sodium ou réduit en cholestérol, auto-prescrit ou prescrit par un médecin. Les éducateurs font maintenant face aux défis suivants: s'adresser au manque d’information, particulièrement parmi les groupes de la population moins susceptibles d’utiliser les étiquettes et de développer des stratégies pratiques pour aider tous les consommateurs à faire une meilleure utilisation de l’information fournie par les étiquettes dans le contrôle de leur régime alimentaire.

      Resumen

      A partir de la comparacion de cinco encuestas dieteticas y de salud realizadas por la Administracion de Alimentos y Drogas durante la decada de los ochenta se estimo el numero de consumidores que utilizan la lista de ingredientes y la information nutritional de las etiquetas de los alimentas. Se identificaron tendencias basadas en la repeticion de las medidas. Estimaciones recientes indican que mas de cuatro de cada cinco consumidores estadounidenses prestan atencion a uno o ambos tipos de informacion, y un poco menos de tres cuartos utiliza cada una de las fuentes de informacion. No hubo incremento neto en el uso por parte de los consumidores del listado de ingredients en la etiqueta de los alimentas entre 1982 y 1986, pero la utilization de la informacion nutritional aumento significativamente. Los consumidores que utilizan ambos tipos de informacion tienen la probabilidad de ser mas jovenes (25–34), blancos, tener sexo femenino, mayor nivel educativo, y de seguir dietas bajas en sodio o colesterol, ya sea por inciativa propia o receta medica. Ahora, los educadores estan de cara a un reto: cerrar la brecha en el conocimiento entre los grupos de poblacion que tienen menor probabilidad de leer las etiquetas, y desarrollar estrategias practicas para ayudar a todos los consumidores a hacer uso mas efectivo de esta informacion en el manejo dietetico.
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