Consumer Comprehension of the Nutrition Facts Label: A Comparison of the Original and Updated Labels

Elizabeth Jiyoon Kim, Brenna Ellison, Melissa Pflugh Prescott, Rodolfo M. Nayga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Compare consumers’ overall label comprehension of the original Nutrition Facts (NF) label with the updated label. Design: Online survey conducted in 2019. Participants randomly assigned to original label, updated-single column, or updated-dual column labeling condition and asked to complete a series of label comprehension questions. Setting: Online survey; participants recruited through Prolific. Sample: N = 992 U.S. adults. Sample similar to U.S. population in terms of sex (49.2% female), race (73.3% White/Caucasian), and household size (mean = 2.7 members). However, sample was younger (median age: 29.0), more educated (98.8% high school graduate or higher), and exhibited a lower rate of obesity (22.6% obese) than the U.S. population. Measures: Dependent variables: objective (% correct) NF label comprehension. Independent variables: label condition, nutrition knowledge, and socio-demographic variables. Analysis: Regression analysis assessed relationships between label condition and label comprehension. Significance level of 5% used for analyses. Results: Average score for objective comprehension was 81.4%. The updates did not significantly improve label comprehension. Participants in the updated NF label conditions had trouble answering questions related to total and added sugars. Conclusions: Results suggest consumers may struggle to correctly utilize information on the updated NF label, specifically total and added sugars. Consumers may benefit from educational opportunities on using the new label.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-657
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • label comprehension
  • nutrition facts label
  • nutrition knowledge
  • nutrition labels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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