Nutrition Label Usage, Diet Health Behavior, and Information Uncertainty
The overarching goal of nutrition labeling is to transform credence attributes into searchable cues, which would enable consumers to make appropriate choices at lower search costs. However, despite an abundance of food labeling information, asymmetries regarding appropriate healthy food choices largely persist. Thus, there is need for research that exposes consumer’s label usage and their level of concern about their health in order to understand the underlying motivations that may explain consumer behavior with regard to labels. In order to better understand how current food-health behavior and related perceptions over potential future health complications are affected by present labeling usage patterns, this study will estimate 1) the impact of nutrition label usage on individual’s perceived diet health concerns using alternative propensity score matching (PSM) techniques; 2) the effect of nutrition label usage on consumer’s stated concerns on (a) diet-health, (b) obesity, and (c) general future wellbeing controlling for a wide variety of socio-demographic variables, food-intake and choice related behaviors, and lifestyles factors; and 3) conduct a series of tests and sensitivity analyses to assure robustness of matching indicators and to validate impacts of treatment effects for label users and non-users. The analysis utilizes data from the 2008 National Health and Wellness Survey conducted by Nielsen Canada. As the results suggest, consumers are not aware or use nutrition labeling information. In order to change dietary behavior, policy makers may need to adopt instruments that account for differences with regard to food preferences, food shopping habits, and overall usage patterns of food/nutrition labeling information.
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