Can front-of-pack labels influence portion size judgements for unhealthy foods?

Zenobia Talati, Simone Pettigrew, Bridget Kelly, Kylie Ball, Bruce Neal, Helen Dixon, Trevor Shilton, Caroline Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective By clearly conveying the healthiness of a food, front-of-pack (FOP) labels have the potential to influence the portion size considered appropriate for consumption. The present study examined the how the Daily Intake Guide (DIG), Multiple Traffic Lights (MTL) and Health Star Rating (HSR) FOP labels affect judgements of appropriate portion sizes of unhealthy foods compared with when no FOP label is present.Design Respondents viewed mock packages of unhealthy variations of pizzas, cookies, yoghurts and cornflakes featuring the DIG, MTL, HSR or no FOP label, and indicated the portion size they believed should be eaten of each food on a single occasion.Setting The survey was completed on the respondent's personal computer.Subjects A total of 1505 Australian adults provided 4166 ratings across 192 mock packages relating to four product categories: pizza, yoghurt, cornflakes and cookies.Results Compared with no FOP label, the HSR resulted in a small but significant reduction in the portion size selected as appropriate for consumption of pizzas and cornflakes (P<0·05). The MTL resulted in smaller portions of cornflakes being selected compared with no FOP label (P<0·05).Conclusions Respondents perceived smaller portion sizes as appropriate for some, but not all, of the foods tested when FOP labels with more interpretative formats (HSR, MTL) appeared on-pack compared with no FOP label. No effect was found for the less interpretive FOP label (the DIG). Interpretive FOP labels may have the potential to influence portion size judgements, albeit at modest levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2776-2781
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Oct 2018


  • Daily intake
  • Food label
  • Health star
  • Portion size
  • Traffic light

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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