April 30, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Gonzalez-Vallejo’s Research Finds Existing Cereal Labels More Effective than Proposed FDA Changes


Dr. Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo

Dr. Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo

Dr. Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo, Associate Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, published an article on “Evaluation of breakfast cereals with the current nutrition facts panel (NFP) and the Food and Drug Administration’s NFP proposal” in the journal Public Health Nutrition in April.

Her co-author was Ohio University alum Bethany Lavins, who earned an M.S. in Experimental Psychology in 2013.

The authors explored the accuracy of research subjects’ judgment of nutrition, comparing the current FDA nutrition panel (found on the side of a cereal box) with new nutrition panels proposed by the FDA. Their research found that “the current NFP is equally or more effective in conveying nutritional information compared with NFP formats based on the FDA proposal.”

Gonzalez-Vallejo is director of the Judgment and Decision Making Laboratory at Ohio University.


Objective: To compare judgments of nutrition and judgment accuracy when evaluating cereals with the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nutrition facts panel (NFP) and two new proposed NFP based on FDA guidelines.

Design: A between-subjects design randomly assigned participants to three NFP conditions (current NFP label and two modified NFP based on FDA proposals). Participants viewed breakfast cereals, and rated each on nutritional quality and on the likelihood of purchasing and consuming it. Participants provided demographic information and responses to questionnaires assessing nutrition/obesity knowledge, concern for healthy eating and nutrient importance.

Setting: USA.

Subjects: Two hundred and thirteen adults who completed an online survey (66·2 percent female, mean age 37·31 (sd 12·56) years).

Results: Judged nutrition quality of cereals was positively correlated with protein, fiber and potassium and negatively correlated with sugars and sodium. This pattern appeared when using the current NFP or the modified versions. Highlighted nutrients in modified NFP formats did not affect their perceived importance. Accuracy of the nutrition quality judgments was measured in relationship to an objectively defined nutrition score, NuVal®. Nutrition judgement accuracy was highest under the current NFP (Spearman’s ρ=0·76 for the current NFP; 0·64 and 0·72 for the other formats). Regression analysis showed that nutrition judgement accuracy increased significantly (adjusted R 2=0·13) with obesity knowledge (β=0·27), age (β=0·15) and current NFP (β=0·13).

Conclusions: The current NFP is equally or more effective in conveying nutritional information compared with NFP formats based on the FDA proposal.


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