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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #202828

Title: An educational program enhances food label understanding of young adolescents

item Griffin, Ian
item Abrams, Steven

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2005
Publication Date: 6/1/2006
Citation: Hawthorne, K.M., Moreland, K., Griffin, I.J., Abrams, S.A. 2006. An educational program enhances food label understanding of young adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 106(6):913-916.

Interpretive Summary: This study examined how well young adolescents understand food labels. Thirty-four adolescents answered questions about the food label on a pretest, and then participated in a small group educational session on how to read food labels led by a registered dietitian. The session ended with an identical post-test to determine if any knowledge was gained through the educational session. Results showed that the test scores improved significantly (P<0.0001) after the educational program. In conclusion, young adolescents can be taught to properly read and understand food labels through a nutrition education program.

Technical Abstract: While much research has focused on intake and eating behaviors of young adolescents, few studies have examined their knowledge of the Nutrition Facts label. The goals of this project were to assess the understanding of Nutrition Facts labels and the response of young adolescents to an educational program about Nutrition Facts labels. Thirty-four young adolescents participated by answering a short questionnaire and taking a pretest about Nutrition Facts labels and their food choices, which involved using actual Nutrition Facts labels from foods typically eaten by adolescents. Then the subjects participated in a short educational program on how to read the Nutrition Facts label. This was followed by a post-test. Initial knowledge of the basic use of the Nutrition Facts label was marginal, with only 6.65 (standard deviation=2.23) or 55% of pretest questions answered correctly. However, the subjects’ scores improved significantly to 8.32 (standard deviation=2.01) or 70% correct on the post-test (P<0.0001, Fisher’s exact test) after the educational session. In conclusion, young adolescents can learn how to read and understand the Nutrition Facts labels through educational sessions.