Green labels on nutrition-poor foods may influence perceptions: Study

13 March 2013 (Last Updated March 13th, 2013 18:30)

A new research has revealed that green calorie labels may influence people into viewing nutrition-poor foods in a healthier light, according to an article titled, "Does Green Mean Healthy? Nutrition Label Color Affects Perceptions of Healthfulness."

Jonathon Schuldt

A new research has revealed that green calorie labels may influence people into seeing nutrition-poor foods in a healthier light, according to an article titled, "Does Green Mean Healthy? Nutrition Label Color Affects Perceptions of Healthfulness."

Cornell University Social Cognition and Communication Lab director and assistant professor of communication, Jonathon Schuldt, wrote that a candy bar with green calorie label is likely to be considered by consumers as healthier compared to a candy with a red label.

"More and more, calorie labels are popping up on the front of food packaging, including the wrappers of sugary snacks like candy bars. And currently, there's little oversight of these labels." Schuldt said.

Green labels cause foods to be perceived as healthier than they really are, particularly among consumers who give more credence to healthy eating.

According to the research, the green-labelled candy bar was perceived by students as more healthy compared to the red one, in an experiment conducted on 93 university students.

When repeated with 39 online participants who were shown candy with either green or white labels, the experiment revealed that the white-labelled candy bar was perceived as less healthy.

"The green calorie labels buffer relatively poor nutrition foods from appearing less healthy, among those especially concerned with healthy eating," Schuldt added.

The study has inferences for nutrition labelling, as front-of-package calorie labels have become more common in the food marketplace in the US and Europe.

Further, the findings suggest that the design and colour of the labels deserve as much attention as the nutritional information they convey.


Image: Cornell University Social Cognition and Communication Lab assistant professor of communication and director Jonathon Schuldt; Photo: Cornell University.