Improvements in recall and food choices using a graphical method to deliver information of select nutrients

Nathan S. Pratt, Brenna D. Ellison, Aaron S. Benjamin, Manabu T. Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consumers have difficulty using nutrition information. We hypothesized that graphically delivering information of select nutrients relative to a target would allow individuals to process information in time-constrained settings more effectively than numerical information. Objectives of the study were to determine the efficacy of the graphical method in (1) improving memory of nutrient information and (2) improving consumer purchasing behavior in a restaurant. Values of fiber and protein per calorie were 2-dimensionally plotted alongside a target box. First, a randomized cued recall experiment was conducted (n = 63). Recall accuracy of nutrition information improved by up to 43% when shown graphically instead of numerically. Second, the impact of graphical nutrition signposting on diner choices was tested in a cafeteria. Saturated fat and sodium information was also presented using color coding. Nutrient content of meals (n = 362) was compared between 3 signposting phases: graphical, nutrition facts panels (NFP), or no nutrition label. Graphical signposting improved nutrient content of purchases in the intended direction, whereas NFP had no effect compared with the baseline. Calories ordered from total meals, entrées, and sides were significantly less during graphical signposting than no-label and NFP periods. For total meal and entrées, protein per calorie purchased was significantly higher and saturated fat significantly lower during graphical signposting than the other phases. Graphical signposting remained a predictor of calories and protein per calorie purchased in regression modeling. These findings demonstrate that graphically presenting nutrition information makes that information more available for decision making and influences behavior change in a realistic setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-56
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Consumer purchasing decision
  • Data visualization
  • Healthy food choices
  • Nutrition signposting
  • Restaurant menu

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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