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Sustainable Diet Dimensions. Comparing Consumer Preference for Nutrition, Environmental and Social Responsibility Food Labelling: A Systematic Review


  • Rebecca C. A. Tobi

    () (Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK)

  • Francesca Harris

    () (Department of Population Health, LSHTM Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel St, London WC1E 7HT, UK)

  • Ritu Rana

    () (Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Gujarat 382042, India)

  • Kerry A. Brown

    () (Faculty of Public Health & Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK)

  • Matthew Quaife

    () (Faculty of Public Health & Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK)

  • Rosemary Green

    () (Department of Population Health, LSHTM Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel St, London WC1E 7HT, UK)


Global food systems are currently challenged by unsustainable and unhealthy consumption and production practices. Food labelling provides information on key characteristics of food items, thereby potentially driving more sustainable food choices or demands. This review explores how consumers value three different elements of sustainable diets: Comparing consumer response to nutrition information on food labels against environmental and/or social responsibility information. Six databases were systematically searched for studies examining consumer choice/preference/evaluation of nutrition against environmental and/or social responsibility attributes on food labels. Studies were quality assessed against domain-based criteria and reported using PRISMA guidelines. Thirty articles with 19,040 participants met inclusion criteria. Study quality was mixed, with samples biased towards highly-educated females. Environmental and social responsibility attributes were preferred to nutrition attributes in 17 studies (11 environmental and six social), compared to nine where nutrition attributes were valued more highly. Three studies found a combination of attributes were valued more highly than either attribute in isolation. One study found no significant preference. The most preferred attribute was organic labelling, with a health inference likely. Consumers generally have a positive view of environmental and social responsibility food labelling schemes. Combination labelling has potential, with a mix of sustainable diet attributes appearing well-received.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca C. A. Tobi & Francesca Harris & Ritu Rana & Kerry A. Brown & Matthew Quaife & Rosemary Green, 2019. "Sustainable Diet Dimensions. Comparing Consumer Preference for Nutrition, Environmental and Social Responsibility Food Labelling: A Systematic Review," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(23), pages 1-22, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:23:p:6575-:d:289461

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    1. Giulia Sesini & Cinzia Castiglioni & Edoardo Lozza, 2020. "New Trends and Patterns in Sustainable Consumption: A Systematic Review and Research Agenda," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(15), pages 1-23, July.

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