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Food shopping and label use behavior among high school-aged adolescents

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Achterberg, Cheryl (main author), McCullum, Christine (author), Penn State Nutrition Center, Penn State University, University Park, PA
Conference paper
Publication Date:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois Box: 97
Subject Term:
buying behavior, consumers, decision making, food, nutrition information, nutrition labeling, youth
James F. Evans Collection, Ham, Mimeographed, 1994. 1 p. Presented at the Society for Nutrition Education, Portland, OR, July 16-20, 1994., Because of the increase in one-parent households and the percent of households that contain two working parents,the number fo teenagers that are doing the family food shopping is also increasing. Whether adolescents read and/or understand food labels while shopping is not known. The purpose of this study was to explore food shopping and label use behavior among adolescents at point-of-purchase. The study group consisted of ninety high school-aged adolescents (n=41 males; n=49 females) stratified by shopping experience (n=44 shoppers; n=46 nonshoppers). Participants were given a list of 20 generic food items to select in an actual grocery store setting. An open-ended questionnaire was administered after shopping to determine the reasons given for each food item selection and to evaluate the use of nutrition information for these items. Scores were computed for total number of times reasons were given to select foods. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the use of shopping strategies and nutrition information. Two tailed t-tests were used for group comparisons. The reasons reported most often for selecting foods were: personal preference/taste, custom/habit, and price/cost. Overall, participants were five times more likely to use front label/nutrition claims than nutrient labels for nutrition information. Fat free/low fat, lite/light, and cholesterol free/low cholesterol were the most commonly used claims. Total fat and calories were the most commonly used constituents on nutrient labels. In terms of reasons given for food item selection, females were significantly more likely than males to use front label/nutrition claims (p<0.001) and nutrient labels (p<0.01); shoppers were significantly more likely than nonshoppers to use nutrient labels (p<0.01). Further research that incorporates adolescents from different backgrounds is needed to understand how young consumers use labels at point-of-purchase. Results should be used to develop nutrition education that teaches food shopping and label reading skills.