Quantitative information on nutrition labels (nutrition facts panels (NFPs)) is often conveyed in the form of absolute weights (i.e. milligrams or grams) and reference values (i.e. per cent daily values (%DVs)) which provide information regarding nutrient levels within the context of a total daily diet. Some evidence suggests that %DVs are preferred over the weights and may be better at communicating nutrition information. However, age differences are often neglected in past work, thus limiting the understanding how effectively NFPs communicate quantitative information across adulthood. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Using eye tracking methodology, the present study examined age and preference differences in attention to weights and %DVs on NFPs during two healthfulness judgement tasks. The extent to which attention predicted judgement accuracy was explored and findings were compared to two additional predictors, prior knowledge and NFP numeracy skills.
Although individuals paid attention to both types of quantitative information, attention to %DVs, but not weights, predicted accuracy, on both tasks. For older adults only, preferences for %DVs were related to %DV attention, and this in turn supported accuracy on the single-NFP task.
These data show that %DVs are important for healthfulness judgements across age but that preferences for %DVs, together with attention to %DVs, are particularly important for older adults.
© Lisa Miller.
This research was funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, R01AG19196. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers.
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