Nutrition Facts Use in Relation to Eating Behaviors and Healthy and Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018 Mar;50(3):267-274.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.11.001. Epub 2017 Dec 21.


Objective: Investigate the relationship between use of Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods and weight-related behaviors.

Design: Cross-sectional survey in 2015-2016.

Participants: Young adult respondents (n = 1,817; 57% women; average age 31.0 ± 1.6 years) to the Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults-IV survey, the fourth wave of a longitudinal cohort study.

Variables measured: Use of Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods; healthy, unhealthy, and extreme weight control behaviors; intuitive eating; binge eating.

Analysis: Linear and logistic regression models were adjusted for age, ethnicity/race, education, income, and weight status.

Results: In women, greater Nutrition Facts use was associated with a 23% and 10% greater likelihood of engaging in healthy and unhealthy weight control behaviors, respectively, and a 17% greater chance of engaging in binge eating. In men, greater label use was associated with a 27% and 17% greater likelihood of engaging in healthy and unhealthy weight control behaviors, respectively, and a lower level of intuitive eating.

Conclusions and implications: Professionals advising patients and clients on weight management may consider possible gender differences in response to weight loss and management guidance. Since label use was related to engagement in some unhealthy behaviors in addition to healthy behaviors, it is important to consider how individuals may use labels, particularly those at risk for, or engaging in, disordered eating behaviors. Future research investigating potential relationships between Nutrition Facts use, intuitive eating, and binge eating is needed.

Keywords: binge-eating disorder; body weight maintenance; food labeling; intuitive eating; weight control behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Food Labeling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*