The types and aspects of front-of-pack food labelling schemes preferred by adults and children
There is strong interest in front-of-pack labels (FoPLs) as a potential mechanism for improving diets, and therefore health, at the population level. The present study examined Australian consumers' preferences for different types and attributes of FoPLs to provide additional insights into optimal methods of presenting nutrition information on the front of food packets. Much research to date has focused on two main types of FoPLs ¿ those expressing daily intake values for specific nutrients and those utilising ¿traffic light¿ colour coding. This study extends this work by: (i) including the new Health Star Rating system recently introduced in Australia and New Zealand; (ii) allowing a large sample of consumers to self-nominate the evaluation criteria they consider to be most important in choosing between FoPLs; (iii) oversampling consumers of lower socioeconomic status; and (iv) including children, who consume and purchase food in their own right and also influence their parents' food purchase decisions. A cross-sectional online survey of 2058 Australian consumers (1558 adults and 500 children) assessed preferences between a daily intake FoPL, a traffic light FoPL, and the Health Star Rating FoPL. Across the whole sample and among all respondent subgroups (males vs females; adults vs children; lower socioeconomic status vs medium-high socioeconomic status; normal weight vs overweight/obese), the Health Star Rating was the most preferred FoPL (44%) and the daily intake guide was the least preferred (20%). The reasons most commonly provided by respondents to explain their preference related to ease of use, interpretive content, and salience. The findings suggest that a simple to use, interpretive, star-based food label represents a population-based nutrition promotion strategy that is considered helpful by a broad range of consumers.