What are the influences of and the roles for the Nutrition Facts box on overall diet quality?
What is the role of the Nutrition Facts box in the larger context of nutrition education to affect consumer behavior?
Are there novel ways that can be identified for using the Nutrition Facts box to teach consumers about nutrition?
Addressing such questions will require a comprehensive approach that includes both quantitative and qualitative methods as commonly employed in market research. This research should provide information about different population groups stratified by traditional factors, such as age, gender, and educational level, and it also should examine how individuals who either have diet-related diseases or are at high risk for developing them use nutrition labeling to inform their purchases. Understanding how consumers use labeling information to inform purchase decisions will require the use of traditional survey techniques, accepted methods of qualitative research, and innovative techniques, such as the verbal protocol analysis described by Higginson and colleagues (2002).
The information obtained from this research should guide the development of a comprehensive food label communication plan that includes the Nutrition Facts box, other information provided on the label (including the ingredients list and health claims) and that integrates this information to help consumers choose more healthful diets. Such a communication plan should include increased broad consumer education on the use of the label, and it should have specified behavioral outcomes that may differ for the various populations of interest. In this manner new and emerging science and data from consumer research may provide the opportunity for a more comprehensive government-based communication and consumer education approach for using the Nutrition Facts box to improve food selection.