Making healthy food choices using nutrition facts panels. The roles of knowledge, motivation, dietary modifications goals, and age

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60 Scopus citations


Nutrition facts panels (NFPs) contain a rich assortment of nutrition information and are available on most food packages. The importance of this information is potentially even greater among older adults due to their increased risk for diet-related diseases, as well as those with goals for dietary modifications that may impact food choice. Despite past work suggesting that knowledge and motivation impact attitudes surrounding and self-reported use of NFPs, we know little about how (i.e., strategies used) and how well (i.e., level of accuracy) younger and older individuals process NFP information when evaluating healthful qualities of foods. We manipulated the content of NFPs and, using eye tracking methodology, examined strategies associated with deciding which of two NFPs, presented side-by-side, was healthier. We examined associations among strategy use and accuracy as well as age, dietary modification status, knowledge, and motivation. Results showed that, across age groups, those with dietary modification goals made relatively more comparisons between NFPs with increasing knowledge and motivation; but that strategy effectiveness (relationship to accuracy) depended on age and motivation. Results also showed that knowledge and motivation may protect against declines in accuracy in later life and that, across age and dietary modification status, knowledge mediates the relationship between motivation and decision accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2012



  • Aging
  • Decision making processes
  • Dietary modifications
  • Food labels
  • Motivation
  • Nutrition facts panels
  • Nutrition knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Psychology(all)

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