Health information and diet choices: Results from a cheese experiment
This study reports results from a choice experiment on semi-hard cheese from Norway. About half of the 408 participants were exposed to diet-related health information before performing either a choice or a ranking task, while a control group did not receive such information. The effects of health information on marginal willingness to pay for low-saturated-fat, low-fat and organic cheese are analyzed using rank-ordered mixed logit models. Cheese preferences are clearly affected by exposure to health information. On average, the health information group is willing to pay a price premium of 27.2% (NOK 24.5 per kg) for low-saturated-fat cheese and 14.4% (NOK 13.0 per kg) for low-fat cheese. This is respectively 1.73 and 2.89 times more than corresponding price premiums in the control group. Non-college, medium–high income, age50–70 and female participants are more clearly affected by health information than college, low income, age 30–49 and male participants. Subjective statements on diet-health knowledge and awareness are used to discuss these findings. Our results suggest that provision of health information is likely to reduce educational differences in diet-health knowledge and thus dietary behavior. Low income participants seem to be constrained by high food prices, but not by lack of knowledge or awareness. Finally, due to lack of diet-health awareness, reaching out to young people and particularly males through health information policies seems difficult.
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