Improving the design of nutrition labels to promote healthier food choices and reasonable portion sizes

Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Jul;38 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S25-33. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.86.


Accurate and easy-to-understand nutrition labeling is a worthy public health goal that should be considered an important strategy among many to address obesity and poor diet. Updating the Nutrition Facts Panel on packaged foods, developing a uniform front-of-package labeling system and providing consumers with nutrition information on restaurant menus offer important opportunities to educate people about food's nutritional content, increase awareness of reasonable portion sizes and motivate consumers to make healthier choices. The aims of this paper were to identify and discuss: (1) current concerns with nutrition label communication strategies; (2) opportunities to improve the communication of nutrition information via food labels, with a specific focus on serving size information; and (3) important future areas of research on nutrition labeling as a tool to improve diet. We suggest that research on nutrition labeling should focus on ways to improve food labels' ability to capture consumer attention, reduce label complexity and convey numeric nutrition information in simpler and more meaningful ways, such as through interpretive food labels, the addition of simple text, reduced use of percentages and easy-to-understand presentation of serving size information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Food Industry* / economics
  • Food Industry* / standards
  • Food Labeling* / economics
  • Food Labeling* / standards
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Portion Size / psychology*
  • Public Health