Researchers Suggest Traffic Light Till Receipts to Improve Food Choices

efab49ab-cb3b-4f24-b96e-f051fd2e6f07articleimage.jpg

10 Jul 2017 --- In an attempt to help people make healthier choices about their food, academics at Birmingham City University have proposed a new traffic light system which uses till receipts to evaluate the nutritional content of a consumer’s entire supermarket trolley. The system shows the total data for calories, sugar, fat and salt in a person’s shopping basket and highlights the total in a green, amber or red color. Although the proposal has been labeled by some as “nannying,” the researchers say that it could revolutionize the way we buy food. 

According to the academics, the system would allow people to see instantly if their regular food shops are too high in certain elements, meaning they can tailor future shopping trips to reduce potentially harmful intakes. 

Current front-of-pack (FOP) traffic light labeling in the UK provides nutritional information on a product by product basis. 

Click to EnlargeResearch into the project shows that more than 83 percent of people currently use traffic light information to assist them in making their food purchases and more than half said they would like to see the total data displayed on their shopping receipts.

“Current evidence suggests that while consumers find the traffic light nutrition labeling useful, there are limitations, particularly when considering a person’s overall nutritional intake,” lead researcher, Matthew Cole, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Birmingham City University. “A new receipt-based system could bridge this gap, and provide an additional tool to help aid consumers in their food purchases, providing an overall summary of their entire food purchases.”

Cole is working with creative designer Hayden Peek, who came up with the till receipt concept. Initial research carried out looked at the extent to which consumers use the current system to make their food choices and whether an alternative receipt-based summary may be a more useful tool. Over 50 percent of those who took part in the survey stated that a receipt-based system would add additional value and help aid their purchasing decisions.

The researchers hope that the new concept could also be incorporated into supermarket self-scanning devices which could track the nutritional value of a shop as consumers go and offer up alternative “healthier” products. 

Critics, however, have suggested that the proposed system could unnecessarily alarm consumers and does not take into account how ingredients are used. 

Speaking to NutritionInsight, Cole says that although the system does indeed not take into account how a food or ingredient is used, the existing front-of-pack system does not account for this either and could be seen as more limited. 

“If a consumer purchases a chicken breast or beef steak, then there is no way of determining how these might be cooked, e.g. fried, grilled, roasted, etc., or the type/amount of fat used to do so – both of which greatly influence the ‘healthiness’ of the product,” Cole says. “However, the existing front-of-pack system does not account for this either and is arguably more limited. Currently, consumers have to try to work out the average or total of their overall nutritional intake for themselves on the basis of individual products.” 

“However, we propose to provide an overall summary of their total purchases which we argue provides a more accurate representation of their long-term dietary intake,” Cole adds.

“As for ‘alarming’ shoppers – I don’t think that this particularly an issue. At the moment the majority of the developed world is experiencing an obesity epidemic and these trends are projected to continue for several years to come. Thus, if we manage to shock or alarm a few shoppers into seeing how unhealthy their shopping habits and helping them make positive changes then that would actually be a successful outcome for the project,” Cole concludes.

by Lucy Gunn

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

Confusing cereals? UK consumer group calls for clearer labeling post Brexit

20 Jun 2018 --- A Which? investigation into the sugar content of “adult” breakfast cereals has unveiled high sugar levels and ignited calls for the UK Government to make traffic light labeling mandatory after Brexit, when EU laws are transferred to British law.

Nutrition & Health News

“Smarter, not sweeter”: General Mills launches high protein yogurt range – but it's not Greek

20 Jun 2018 --- General Mills has introduced YQ by Yoplait, a new yogurt made with ultra-filtered milk that delivers big on protein with an intentionally less sweet taste. With the launch of the yogurt, the company is catering to the needs of a range of health conscious consumers looking for a convenient dairy product that can be eaten alone as a snack, blended with fruit in a smoothie or added as an ingredient in many recipes.

Nutrition & Health News

Personalized nutrition: Mindful and aware consumers drive market opportunity

19 Jun 2018 --- Personalized nutrition has taken its place as a key industry topic, spurring the launch of a number of innovative start-ups using cutting-edge technologies to offer precise nutrition advice to consumers. This growing industry space will be the topic of discussion at the Personalized Nutrition Innovation Summit, which is taking place in San Francisco on June 26-27.

Nutrition & Health News

Saturated fat increases risk of psychopathology, study suggests

19 Jun 2018 --- Adolescent rats who consume a diet high in saturated fats are at an increased risk of psychopathology in adulthood, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity has found. Moreover, the researchers from Loma Linda University in California found that the areas of the brain that handle the fear/stress response were altered to the point that subjects began exhibiting behaviors that mirror post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings could help researchers to target mental health illness in the coming generations and express the lasting, and potentially irreversible, effects of a poor diet.

Packaging & Technology News

Raised Real: Maximizing nutrition and minimizing waste in infant nutrition

19 Jun 2018 --- Tapping into a space opened up by “millennial parents” who want nutritious food for their infants, with an environmentally-friendly seal of appeal, is Raised Real. The California start-up offers an innovative baby food meal-kit delivery solution, touting nutritionally balanced meals and an innovative freeze-cooling packaging system. Speaking to Santiago Merea, CEO and co-founder, Steven Kontz, co-founder and CFO and Benish Shah, VP of Marketing, NutritionInsight looks into how the company is minimizing food waste while maximizing nutrition and protecting the environment through packaging choices. 

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/researchers-suggest-traffic-light-till-receipts-to-improve-food-choices.html