Date of this Version
Nutrients 2019, 11, 2272
The decades-long increase in obesity in the US has led to a number of policies aimed at improving diets, which are thought to play a significant role in obesity. Many of these policies seek to influence individuals’ behaviors. Front-of-package labels providing salient, easily interpretable information to consumers have exhibited promise in helping people identify and choose healthier foods. However, behavioral economics may offer an opportunity to enhance label effectiveness. Tailoring labels to high-risk communities, including minority and rural populations, which have higher rates of diet-related diseases than the overall population, may increase the label’s effectiveness. We conducted a choice experiment with supermarket shoppers on a rural American Indian reservation to test labels tailored to the local population relative to a generic label, which had previously been identified as highly effective in the general population. Results show that while the generic label continues to be quite effective in encouraging healthier choices, the label that is tailored to the local community is more effective, resulting in a marked increase in the premium shoppers were willing to pay for a healthy item. Tailoring healthy food labeling systems using insights from behavioral economics may increase their effectiveness.