Determinants of Food Label Use Differ by Sex

Published:February 09, 2013DOI:


      Although the Nutrition Facts label has been a requirement on food packages for more than 20 years, few studies have conducted comprehensive assessments of food label use. The purpose of this study was to assess the demographic and psychosocial correlates of food label use using a comprehensive approach. A sample of 1,382 males and females (n=573 and n=809, respectively) aged 19 to 70 years was drawn from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The food label Check and Use subscales are the sums of multiple questions on frequency of checking and using each separate component on a Nutrition Facts label. Multiple linear regression was used to assess differences in predictors of Check and Use. Determinants of food label use differed by sex. Women check and use food label components more often and thoroughly than men. Older adults and adults with good diet-quality perception were significant predictors of food label use for both men and women. Race was a significant predictor for men only. Mexican-American and other Hispanic groups check (P=0.03) and use (P=0.01) the food label more frequently than non-Hispanic white men. Men who do not receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits also check (P<0.01) and use (P=0.01) food labels more frequently than those who receive assistance. The findings of this study could be used to improve nutrition education efforts. It may be beneficial to target men and women separately, as food label use determinants are different.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. 21 U.S.C. §343(q) and (r): Pub L. No. 101-535, 104 Stat 2353 (1990).

        • Todd J.E.
        • Variyam J.N.
        The Decline in Consumer Use of Food Nutrition Labels, 1995-2006.
        (Economic Research Report No. 63) Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC2008
        • Ollberding N.J.
        • Wolf N.L.
        • Contento I.
        Food label use and its relation to dietary intake among US adults.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2010; 110: 1233-1237
        • Kreuter M.W.
        • Brennan L.K.
        • Scharff D.P.
        • Lukwago S.N.
        Do nutrition label readers eat healthier diets?.
        Am J Prev Med. 1997; 13: 277-283
        • Neuhouser M.L.
        • Kristal A.R.
        • Patterson R.E.
        Use of food nutrition labels is associated with lower fat intake.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1999; 99: 45-53
        • Lin C.T.
        • Lee J.Y.
        • Yen S.T.
        Do dietary intakes affect search for nutrient information on food labels?.
        Soc Sci Med. 2004; 59: 1955-1967
        • Temple J.L.
        • Johnson K.
        • Recupero K.
        • Suders H.
        Nutrition labels decrease energy intake in adults consuming lunch in the laboratory.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2010; 110: 1094-1097
        • Staser K.W.
        • Saywell R.M.
        • Zollinger T.W.
        • Kunapareddy S.
        • Gibson P.J.
        • Caine V.A.
        Dietary behaviors associated with fruit and vegetable consumption, Marion County, Indiana, 2005.
        Prev Chronic Dis. 2011; 8: 1-9
        • Campos S.
        • Doxey J.
        • Hammond D.
        Nutrition labels on pre-packaged foods: A systematic review.
        Public Health Nutr. 2011; 14: 1496-1506
        • Lewis J.E.
        • Arheart K.L.
        • LeBlanc W.G.
        • et al.
        Food label use and awareness of nutritional information and recommendations among persons with chronic disease.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 90: 1351-1357
        • Furst T.
        • Connors M.
        • Bisogni C.A.
        • Sobal J.
        • Falk L.W.
        Food choice: A conceptual model of the process.
        Appetite. 1996; 26: 247-266
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics
        National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data. NHANES 2005-2006.
        US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, MD2007 (Accessed August 16, 2012)
        • Guthrie J.F.
        • Fox J.J.
        • Cleveland L.E.
        • Welsh S.
        Who uses nutrition labeling, and what effects does label use have on diet quality?.
        J Nutr Educ. 1995; 27: 163-172
        • Satia J.A.
        • Galanko J.A.
        • Neuhouser M.L.
        Food nutrition label use is associated with demographic, behavioral, and psychosocial factors and dietary intake among African Americans in North Carolina.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 392-402


      K. A. Stran is a graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate, Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.


      L. L. Knol is an associate professor, Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.