Shoppers find nutritional information confusing

25th January 2012 - Fine Cut

Almost six out of ten consumers have difficulty understanding the nutritional information on food packaging, according to a new study.

A worldwide poll by Nielsen Holdings has revealed that 52 per cent of shoppers only partly understand nutritional labels, whilst 7 per cent don't understand them at all.

Reacting to the figures, Nielsen vice-president James Russo suggested that changing the way that nutritional information is presented on food labels could drastically help consumers in their bid to lose weight through dieting.

He told marketwatch.com: "Consumers around the world have healthy eating on their minds and consumer packaged goods marketers have an opportunity to help.  Consumer-friendly nutritional labelling can be a powerful marketing tool as consumers are hungry for easy-to-understand information."

An article from The St. Louis Beacon has questioned whether a new rating system developed by NuVal, which simply grades the healthiness of food out of 100, could help people develop a healthier diet. The NuVal system is used by a few supermarkets in the United States and is reportedly favoured by the Obama administration.

However, University of Missouri nutrition expert Glenda Kinder says that a system like this would just increase confusion amongst shoppers. "I can't imagine that you could get a very good idea of [the] nutritional value of a food just from a number," she told stlbeacon.org.

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