Sugar labeling: How numerical information of sugar content influences healthiness and tastiness expectations

Autoři: Simona Haasova aff001;  Arnd Florack aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Psychology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223510


Overconsumption of highly sugary foods contributes to increases in obesity and diabetes in our population, and initiatives are issued worldwide to reduce sugar content in food products. However, it is unclear how the presentation of reduced sugar content on food packages affects taste expectations of consumers. Based on the learned knowledge about negative health effects of sugar and the common belief that unhealthy food tastes better than healthy food, consumers might conclude that lower sugar levels are associated with higher healthiness and lower tastiness. Addressing this concern, we examined how quantitative information about sugar content without any verbal description influences consumers’ health and taste expectations of dairy desserts. We asked participants to indicate the expected healthiness and tastiness of randomly sampled dairy desserts, while varying systematically the quantitative sugar information provided in a label presented with the desserts (numerical sugar level in grams per 100 grams of product: low vs. original vs. high). We assumed that quantitative sugar content is not equally associated with healthiness and tastiness of products and that numerical information about sugar content informs health more than taste expectations. Therefore, we predicted that consumers expect higher healthiness, but not to the same degree lower tastiness for products with reduced sugar contented compared to products with higher sugar content. The results of the present study are in line with this hypothesis. We found that consumers expected desserts with less sugar to be healthier than desserts with higher levels of sugar. The experimentally varied sugar levels did not affect the tastiness expectations. Notably, consumers did not follow the unhealthy = tasty intuition and did not devaluate the tastiness of desserts because of heightened healthiness expectations. Our findings suggest that sole numerical information about sugar content—an important nutritional value—is more diagnostic in the construction of healthiness rather than tastiness expectations of food products.

Klíčová slova:

European Union – Fats – Food consumption – Global health – Health informatics – Obesity – Taste


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2019 Číslo 11