Labels that show food’s impact on the climate can influence consumer choices, according to a clinical study published in . JAMA network opened.
The study surveyed more than 5,000 US adults and imagined them ordering a fast-food menu consisting of burgers, salads, and other products common in take-out restaurants.
Alongside these items was one of three labels. QR codes, or “climate labels” in positive or negative frames.
A climate label implied that a product would have reduced or increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with a reduced or increased climate impact.
Researchers found that participants exposed to climate labels were approximately 25% more motivated to purchase products with a lower carbon profile, as opposed to the QR code control group.
People presented with menu options with high-impact climate labels were also more likely to purchase more sustainable options. Women were also more likely than men to respond to high-impact labels.
“Climate impact menu labels are more effective than QR code labels in encouraging U.S. adults to choose environmentally sustainable (non-red meat) items from fast food restaurant menus. ,” explained the study authors.
“Negatively framed red labeling with a high climate impact label on red meat products is more sustainable than labeling non red meat items with a green low climate impact label with a frame. It was effective in increasing the number of possible options.”
Labels suggesting climate sustainability also appeared to influence perceptions of the nutritional value of products.
In Australia, major fast food retailers are required to include prominent nutrition information labels on menus in most states and territories. The review found that 2 in 5 people in the US have noticed and been affected by kilojoule readings.
Climate labels evaluated in an American study also found that participants exposed to climate labels were more likely to order more nutritious items.
However, researchers have also found that these labels can lead to a misleading “halo effect.”
Participants exposed to climate labels were more likely to choose healthier items, but none met the definition of healthy products under the U.S. Nutrition Profile Index.
Results suggest that climate impact labels may lead to more environmentally sustainable choices, but the researchers noted that the hypothetical nature of the study was decoupled from impacts. did.
“The results of this study suggest that sustainability labels, especially labels warning of the high climate impact of red meat in fast food restaurants, are an effective means of promoting more environmentally sustainable choices. It suggests that it is possible,” they said.
“This health halo effect may be important because many sustainable items are not particularly healthy. The health halo effect can encourage overconsumption.”
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