Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Got Calcium? Food Labels Confuse Consumers, Study Shows

Date:
October 5, 2007
Source:
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Summary:
Current food labeling leads to under-consumption of calcium, according to this study. Those who were taught how to translate the information consumed more. Researchers believe the same is true for other beneficial nutrients.

Current food labeling leads to under-consumption of calcium, according to this study. Those who were taught how to translate the information consumed more. Researchers believe the same is true for other beneficial nutrients.

Related Articles


A woman at risk for osteoporosis is told by her doctor to get 1,200-1,500 milligrams of calcium every day. But when she looks at the Nutrition Facts panel on a carton of yogurt or a jug of milk, she finds that calcium is only listed by "Percent Daily Value" (%DV).

How does she convert that to milligrams?

If she's like most of us...she can't. And neither can her doctor.

Those were among the findings of research conducted by Laura A. Peracchio, professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), and Lauren Block, professor of marketing at Baruch College (CUNY). The results were so compelling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added information to its Web site on how to translate %DV to milligrams.

The problem

The research, which involved three separate studies and a follow-up, is discussed in "The Calcium Quandary: How Consumers Use Nutrition Labels for Daily Diet," published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. Peracchio and Block found that:

In Study 1, only two of 37 respondents correctly translated the calcium information on a carton of yogurt from %DV to milligrams.

In Study 2, when 20 physicians were shown the same label, only six gave the right answer in milligrams. (Asked how the calculation was done, one physician who gave an incorrect answer replied: "I have no idea. I made it up.") Yet most doctors dispense calcium recommendations to their patients in milligrams.

The central question of the research, Peracchio and Block write, is: "How do consumers make food consumption decisions when product information falls short of providing the nutritional knowledge needed for personal health consumption goals""

And the answer

The answer is found in Study 3, which involved 41 women who were pregnant or breast-feeding. All had been told by their doctors or had read independently that they needed 1,200-1,500 milligrams of calcium a day.

Half of the women were given a one-page calcium fact sheet including the formula for converting %DV to milligrams. The formula is simple -- %DV is based on the average recommended calcium intake of 1,000 milligrams daily. To convert %DV to milligrams, just add "0" to the percentage on the label. For example, a carton of milk delivering 30% DV contains 300 milligrams of calcium.

The women who were given the fact sheet consumed significantly more average daily calcium (a mean of 1,429.78 milligrams) than women who were not given the fact sheet (a mean of 988.24 milligrams).

Current labeling leads to under-consumption of calcium, the research showed. The women who were not given the fact sheet may have consumed close to 100%DV of calcium daily, but it fell short of the 120-150% DV they really needed.

"This is particularly worrisome with at-risk populations such as those over 55 years of age, or pregnant or lactating women," says Peracchio.

Teenage girls also need extra calcium, she points out, and at least one study has suggests that consuming high levels of vitamin D and calcium may offer some protection against the most aggressive kinds of breast cancer.

Other nutrients affected

Peracchio and Block point out that the difficulty in translating the Nutrition Facts panel on food products goes beyond calcium.

"The challenge of using the Nutrition Facts panel to make adequate food consumption decisions is similar for other nutrients that consumers often do not consume enough of, such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron...."

The Nutrition Facts panel is separated into two categories: the top of the panel lists nutrients that should be limited (fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc.); "good" nutrients are listed at the bottom (calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins A and C, etc.).

"Much more attention and educational efforts have been paid to the former than to the latter," the research concluded.

"Helping people better navigate the consumer environment" is extremely rewarding work, Peracchio says. She teaches courses in consumer behavior, marketing strategy and nonprofit marketing at UWM's Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, and also serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Consumer Research, one of the top three journals in the marketing field.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. "Got Calcium? Food Labels Confuse Consumers, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071005092729.htm>.
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. (2007, October 5). Got Calcium? Food Labels Confuse Consumers, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071005092729.htm
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. "Got Calcium? Food Labels Confuse Consumers, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071005092729.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) A meningitis outbreak in Niger has killed 85 people since the start of the year prompting authorities to close schools in the capital Niamey until Monday. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
C-Section Births a Trend in Brazil

C-Section Births a Trend in Brazil

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) More than half of Brazil&apos;s babies are born via cesarean section, as mothers and doctors opt for a faster and less painful experience despite the health risks. Duration: 02:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 24, 2015) The world&apos;s first anti-malaria vaccine could get the go-ahead for use in Africa from October if approved by international regulators. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) Developers of 3D food printing hope the culinary technology will revolutionize the way we cook and eat. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins