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Conceptual understanding and quantity inferences: A new framework for examining consumer understanding of food energy.

Liu, Dawn and Juanchich, MMG (2018) 'Conceptual understanding and quantity inferences: A new framework for examining consumer understanding of food energy.' Public Health Nutrition. ISSN 1368-9800

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Abstract

Objective The study examined two components of consumer understanding for food energy information: understanding the concept of energy and its quantity. Using this new framework, we investigated whether activity-equivalent labels facilitated interpretations of food energy compared to calorie labels and whether an image format would strengthen this facilitative effect compared to text. Design We assessed the effect of energy representation and format in a 2 (activity vs. calories) x 2 (image vs. text) between-subjects design. Conceptual understanding of energy was measured in terms of level of understanding and personal engagement. Quantitative understanding was measured in terms of participants’ estimations of a food’s contribution to their recommended daily intake and perceptions of energy values as precise or single-bound interval estimates. Setting The experiment was conducted online through Qualtrics. Subjects Eight hundred and twelve participants (55% female, age range 18-74) were recruited through a national survey panel in the UK. Results Participants were twice more likely to have a stronger conceptual understanding of energy, and four times more likely to personally engage with activity than calorie labels. Participants did not differ across labels in their estimations of energy quantities, however they inferred quantities to mean exactly the stated number of calories, but at least the stated activity duration. There were no added benefits in presenting an image over the text format. Conclusions Activity labels can facilitate conceptual understanding of energy, but may be subject to quantitative misinterpretations. Nutrition communication should consider what people infer from quantities represented on labels.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Food labels, food energy value, pragmatic inferences, label understanding
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 15:22
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22807

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