By: Abbey Stacey
Obesity has continued to be a major national health concern and it’s increasing the chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancers. Since there is a link between dietary habits and obesity, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has attempted to introduce changes to nutrition food labels to make it easier for consumers to comprehend. If the FDA is able to promote greater utilization of the nutrition label to regular food and calorie intake, it could take a step in a positive direction to improve peoples’ dietary choices.
Self-efficacy, response efficacy, and prior nutrition knowledge have all been shown to be important determinants of consumers’ information search and behavior. Self-efficacy is when an individual believes they have the required skills to successfully perform a task. Consumers who have high self-efficacy will have confidence in themselves to read a nutrition label and be able to make that healthy choice. If a consumer doesn’t have high self-efficacy, they are less likely to use the nutrition label to make a decision because they don’t believe that they would know what the right choice is based off of the label. Response efficacy refers to an individual who believes a certain behavior is effective in yielding a required outcome or preventing a negative one. This goes to show that consumers believe that reading nutrition labels and information on food products prior to purchase will be effective in maintaining a healthy diet and will prevent diet-related diseases. Lastly is nutrition knowledge, which means people who have prior knowledge are apt to engage in more information search compared to consumers who have less nutrition experience. If consumers have prior knowledge they are bound to make better food selections, more nutritious food choices, utilize nutrition information, and improve dietary behaviors.
Four Hypotheses in the Study
H1: Consumers’ perceived self-efficacy will lead to a greater intention to use the nutrition label when making food consumption decisions.
H2: Consumers’ perceived response efficacy will lead to a greater intention to use the nutrition label when making food consumption decisions.
H3: Consumers’ prior nutrition knowledge will lead to a greater intention to use the nutrition label when making food consumption decisions.
H4: Consumers’ intention to use the nutrition label when making food consumption decisions will lead to more healthy nutrition behavior.
Making a decision can depend on the consumer’s level of involvement and how often they purchase certain items. For low involvement situations, habitual decision making may occur, in which a consumer may not make a healthy choice because of the habit of getting the same type of food each time. Sometimes this can be due to low cost, the brand being familiar to the customer, or of there is little thought, search, or time given to the purchase. These consumers could potentially be an example of those who possess little nutrition knowledge in which they don’t look at the nutrition facts and are only looking for what they are familiar with. This also connects back to having low self-efficacy because they don’t have the confidence to turn the package around and read the food label. If a customer has too much knowledge on nutrition labels, a perceived risk could be that it takes them longer to make a decision. When it takes customers longer to make a decision, it becomes more important to them, and it ends up taking more resources than are required.
In the study, all measures were assessed on seven-point Likert-type scales (strongly disagree and strongly agree), with a total of 18 questions split up between self-efficacy, response efficacy, nutrition knowledge, intention, and nutrition behavior. What the study ended up finding was that all four hypotheses were statistically significant. For hypothesis 1, P-value was <0.05, hypothesis 2, P-value was <0.01, hypothesis 3, P-value was <0.01, and hypothesis 4 was P-value <0.01.
The results of this study highlighted the importance of self-efficacy, response efficacy, and consumers’ nutrition knowledge in utilizing the information on food labels. If the intention to use the food label is there, then the use of the nutrition label is related to more healthful eating behaviors and choices. For future directions, consumer nutrition education campaigns may find it more effective to focus on communicating and explaining specific nutrient information as opposed to presenting more general information. If consumers know what to look for when reading a food label they are more likely to use it and comprehend the information in a constructive way. Educating consumers about diet-disease relationships and other specifics of the nutrition structure of food products empowers consumers with the knowledge that may enhance their likelihood to use food labels. If practitioners, public policy makers, and marketers were able better understand what consumers are looking at before purchasing a food product, they would be able to target those certain areas. To better educate and emphasize messages to consumers, they could also design programs that target people will lower levels of nutrition knowledge. Aiming to better educate consumers on food labels will create a healthier population and we will eventually start to see chronic illnesses and health costs decrease.
ABOULNASR, KHALED. “THE ROLE OF SELF-EFFICACY, RESPONSE EFFICACY AND NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE IN CONSUMERS’UTILIZATION OF NUTRITION LABELS.” Marketing Management, (2013): 2.