Abstract 060: Long-term Effectiveness of a Color-coded Food Labeling Intervention in Promoting Healthy Choices
Background: To reduce obesity, food labeling interventions must produce sustained changes in population eating behaviors, but the long-term effectiveness of food labeling is unknown.
Methods: We previously demonstrated that a labeling intervention in a large hospital cafeteria increased sales of healthy items over 6 months. After collecting baseline data for 3 months, we implemented an intervention to label (L) items green (healthy), yellow (less healthy), or red (unhealthy) and to change choice architecture (CA). At study end, cafeteria changes were left in place. In the current analysis, we assessed the effectiveness of the labeling over the 18 months following the initial 6 month study. We calculated the proportion of items sold that were labeled green or red during each 3-month period and the absolute and relative changes in sales of red and green items at the end of 18 months compared to baseline.
Results: The mean number of items sold during each 3-month period was 1,024,347. From baseline to the end of the 6-month intervention, sales of red items decreased (24.9% to 21.5%, p<.001) and green items increased (42.2% to 43.9%, p<.001). At the end of 18 month follow up, red sales remained decreased at 21.0% (p<.001) and green sales increased further to 46.0% (p<.001). Red beverages had a relative decrease of 31% (p<.001) at 18 months compared to baseline and green beverages increased 15% (p<.001). Beverage sales from baseline (B) to the end of follow-up are shown in the Figure.
Conclusion: A simple color-coded labeling intervention resulted in sustained healthier food and beverage choices over two years in a large hospital cafeteria. These results suggest food labeling is an effective population-based strategy to help reduce obesity.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.