Types and Aspects of Front-of-Package Labeling Preferred by Parents: Insights for Policy Making in China

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The WHO recommends front-of-package labeling (FOPL) to help parents make healthier food choices for their children. But which type of FOPL resonates with parents in China? We performed a cross-sectional study to investigate parental preferences for five widely used formats of FOPL. A multi-stage cluster sampling method was applied to selected parents of students in primary and secondary schools in six provinces and municipalities from July 2020 to March 2021. A close-ended questionnaire was used to collect demographic information, parents’ preferences for five FOPL in three dimensions, perceptions of the importance of nutrients labeled on FOPL, and prepackaged foods that need FOPL most. Chi-square tests were used to examine the characteristics among five groups. The results showed that multiple traffic lights (MTL) was preferred by parents, followed by warning labels. Parents thought the most needed nutrients to label were sugar, salt, and total fat. The top three prepackaged foods to label were “baked food”, “milk and dairy products” and “sugar-sweetened beverages”. Our findings indicate that nutrient-specific FOPL formats with interpretive aids were preferred by Chinese parents. These new findings can help inform the planning and implementation of FOPL in China and help Chinese parents make healthier food choices.

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World Health Organization



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