Most who had noticed the labels had used them. Fifty-six percent of those who knew about the program reported using it to guide their choices. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they used the program a little or sometimes, while another 17 percent used it often or always.
Those who had had a heart-related screening, such as a cholesterol or blood pressure test, in the past year seemed far more than likely to notice the shelf labeling program than those who had not.
"Package nutrition labels can be confusing, but this simple color-coding tells shoppers at a glance which foods they could make a part of their regular diet, and which should be enjoyed in moderation," says Holly Noble, R.D., who currently coordinates the M-Fit supermarket program. "Based on this study, it appears that they're seeing and using it."
Though the stores used in the study do not currently participate in the shelf-labeling program, Noble and her colleagues have worked since 1991 with other Michigan and Ohio stores to implement the color-coded shelf labeling system. More than two dozen stores in the Busch's, Whole Foods, and Heinen's chains are currently participating.
Another 56 stores in Michigan and Wisconsin are working with M-Fit to provide "shelf talker" cards that help shoppers identify "best" and "acceptable" choices using the products' own nutrition labels.
A current list of stores can be found on the World Wide Web at
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System
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