Study: “Traffic-light” and numeric calorie labels may cut consumption

Credit: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA (WTEN) – Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found the combination of “traffic-light” and numeric calorie labels cut calorie consumption by 10 percent.

The colors indicate whether the food has low, medium, or high calorie content. Green labels mean low calorie content, yellow medium calorie content and red labels high calorie content.

Researchers say numbers alone, traffic lights alone, or both labels together reduced calorie ordered compared to those with no calorie labels.

“Calorie labeling appears to be effective in an online environment where consumers have fewer distractions, and the simpler traffic-light labeling seems as effective as standard calorie numbers,” said lead author Eric M. VanEpps, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers conducted the study over a six week period where 803 orders were placed by 249 participants.

The study is the first to evaluate the effect of “traffic-light” calorie labeling.

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