Effect of nutrition labels on dietary quality among college students: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Mary J. Christoph, Ruopeng An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: College students are at an elevated risk of poor nutrition and eating habits. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to examine and quantify the effect of nutrition labels on diet quality in college students. Data Sources: Literature searches were conducted in 4 electronic databases. Study Selection: Peer-reviewed publications that assessed the effect of nutrition label use on food choice or dietary intake in college students were included. Data Extraction: Twenty-two randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, and pre-post studies were identified. Results: Sixteen studies found label exposure to be associated with improved diet. Of the 13 studies reporting calories selected or consumed, 8 found that posting labels at the point of purchase decreased calories, 4 found no effect, and 1 found that calories consumed increased after posting labels. Nine of the 12 studies assessing noncaloric measures found that nutrition labels positively affected diet quality. Meta-analysis of pre-post studies found a decrease of 36 kcal (P < 0.05) with label exposure. Conclusions: Nutrition labels had a moderate but positive effect on dietary intake of college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalNutrition reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • College
  • Diet
  • Menu labels
  • Nutrition labels
  • University

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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