|dc.description.abstract||A diet high in fat results in dietary-related diseases, which have reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. Nutritional labelling has the potential to alter consumers’ knowledge of attitude and behaviour towards their fat intake.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of nutritional labelling on the population’s fat-intake through a systematic literature review.
Electronic databases, reference lists of relevant studies and the Internet were searched, to identify studies that could help to answer the problem statement. Relevant citations were independently identified by two investigators based on the established inclusion-criteria. After this the full text of the selected citations were obtained and filtered independently by each investigator based on the inclusion- and exclusion criteria. The characteristics of each study was recorded in specially developed data extraction forms by the investigator herself and was checked by a second investigator. The primary objective of the study was to investigate nutritional labelling on food packaging. Two other forms of labelling were included to gain a more concise perception of consumers’ knowledge and practices regarding information on fat. These other forms were point-of-sale labelling (in supermarkets, in restaurants, by vending machines) and experimental labelling (labels spesifically designed to indicate the fat-content of a food item).
A total of 59 relevant studies were included based on the inclusion-criteria. Although only a few studies assessed the effect of labelling on diet, there was evidence that the use of labels resulted in lower fat intake. Women older than 35 years with higher education levels, who used nutritional supplements, and who were in the maintenance stage of change to a lower fat diet, and who believed in the importance of nutrition, were between 50% to 80% higher users of information about fat than their counterparts. Fat is the food component which was most looked at on the food label (50% to 80%). Small changes in fat intake occured due to point-of-sale labelling, but labelling programmes which combined labelling with additional information on fat (e.g. pamphlets), increased visibility and nutrition education programmes, were more successful. People generally perceived products lower in fat as less pleasant, but sensory judgement of the products labelled with a low fat content were related to a person’s beliefs and concerns towards fat.
Nutritional labelling can be an effective measure, which can be used to reduce the population’s fat intake; however, more research is needed to assess the effect of labelling on fat content of their diet. Regulations and education is needed to enhance the consumer’s trust in and capability in the use of labelling to make better food choices and to alter their diet. The success of labelling is dependant on a well-educated and motivated population, as well as the necessary information in a format which is understandable to the consumer.||en