Most consumers ignore nutritional labels on food packagings and simply buy what they like, a new study claims.
Researchers from the Food Labeling to Advance Better Education for Life (FLABEL) investigated 37,000 products in five potentially unhealthy types of food, including biscuits, chilled ready meals and fizzy drinks.
They found Britain had the highest proportion of nutritional information on packaging, with more than 95 percent including it on the back of packs, and 82 percent on the front.
However, the research also found that most consumers understand perfectly well how healthy various foods are with only the bare minimum of nutritional information.
Authors of the study discovered that people who said they understood or liked the various labeling schemes were happy to ignore them and buy the food they liked best, regardless of how unhealthy it was.
FLABEL advisor Professor Klaus Grunert, from Aarhus University in Denmark called on food companies to put clear information on the front of packs for maximum impact.
However, Grunert conceded that even this wouldn’t make shoppers to dump the junk, saying: ‘Motivation was a major factor affecting the impact of nutrition labels on the choices made by consumers.
He added: ‘The FLABEL research shows the most promising option for increasing consumers’ attention to, and use of, nutrition information on food labels, is to provide information on key nutrients and energy on the front of the pack, in a consistent way.
‘Complementing this information with a health logo can also increase attention to, and use of, the information, especially when the consumer is under time pressure.