Correlates of nutrition label use among college students and young adults: A review

Mary J. Christoph, Ruopeng An, Brenna Ellison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective Nutrition labels are an essential source for consumers to obtain nutrition-related information on food products and serve as a population-level intervention with unparalleled reach. The present study systematically reviewed existing evidence on the correlates of nutrition label use among college students and young adults. Design Keyword and reference searches were conducted in PubMed, EBSCO, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library and Web of Science. Inclusion criteria included: study design (randomized controlled trial, cohort study, pre-post study or cross-sectional study); population (college students and young adults 18-30 years old); main outcome (nutrition label use); article type (peer-reviewed publication); and language (English). Setting College/university. Subjects College students and young adults. Results Sixteen studies based on data from college surveys in four countries (USA, UK, Canada, South Korea) were identified from keyword and reference search. Reported prevalence of nutrition label use varied substantially across studies; a weighted average calculation showed 36·5 % of college students and young adults reported using labels always or often. Females were more likely to use nutrition labels than males. Nutrition label use was found to be associated with attitudes towards healthy diet, beliefs on the importance of nutrition labels in guiding food selection, self-efficacy, and nutrition knowledge and education. Conclusions The impact of nutrition labelling on food purchase and intake could differ by population subgroups. Nutrition awareness campaigns and education programmes may be important mechanisms for promoting nutrition label use among college students and young adults. Future research is warranted to assess the role of label use on improved dietary decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2135-2148
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Dining hall
  • Label use
  • Nutrition labels
  • University students
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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