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Point-of-Purchase Nutrition Information Influences Food-Purchasing Behaviors of College Students: A Pilot Study

      Abstract

      The goal of point-of-purchase (POP) nutrition information is to help consumers make informed, healthful choices. Despite limited evaluation, these population-based approaches are being advocated to replace traditional, more expensive, individual behavior-change strategies. Few studies have examined the effect of POP information on buying patterns of college students, a group with high obesity rates and poor eating habits. This quasi-experimental pilot project sought to determine whether the “Eat Smart” POP program affected food-purchasing habits of multiethnic college students shopping at an on-campus convenience store. Baseline sales data of foods in the cereal, soup, cracker, and bread categories were collected for 6 weeks during Fall 2008. After Winter break, a few food items within each of these food categories were labeled as healthful using a “Fuel Your Life” shelf tag, and sales data were then collected for 5 weeks. In each of the four food categories, nontagged foods were available at the identical price as tagged items. Following intervention, there were increased sales of tagged items (measured as a percentage of total sales) in the cereal, soup, and cracker categories, while sales of bread decreased. Although none of these changes were statistically significant, the intervention resulted in a 3.6%±1.6% (P=0.082) increase in the percentage of sales from tagged items. Thus, providing POP nutrition information in a college campus convenience store may promote healthful food choices. A longer study examining the effect of POP on sales of items in other food categories is warranted.
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      Biography

      M. R. Freedman is an assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging, San José State University, San José, CA

      Biography

      R. Connors was a graduate student, Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging, San José State University, San José, CA