Does green mean healthy? Nutrition label color affects perceptions of healthfulness

Health Commun. 2013;28(8):814-21. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2012.725270. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


The food industry has recently implemented numerous front-of-package nutrition labels to readily convey key aspects a food product's nutritional profile to consumers (e.g., calories and fat content). Although seemingly well-intentioned, such labels might lead consumers to perceive relatively poor nutrition foods in a healthier light. The present research explores whether one underresearched aspect of nutrition labels-namely, their color-might influence perceptions of a product's healthfulness. In Study 1, participants perceived a candy bar as healthier when it bore a green rather than a red calorie label, despite the fact that the labels conveyed the same calorie content. Study 2 examined the perceived healthfulness of a candy bar bearing a green versus white calorie label and assessed individual differences in the importance of healthy eating. Overall, results suggest that green labels increase perceived healthfulness, especially among consumers who place high importance on healthy eating. Discussion focuses on implications for health-related judgment and nutrition labeling.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Candy
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Color*
  • Female
  • Food Labeling / methods*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States
  • Young Adult