The Salience of Food Labeling Among Low-income Families With Overweight Children

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore the role of food labeling among low-income families with overweight children.

Design:

A longitudinal, qualitative study involving interviews, focus groups, and self-introspections.

Setting:

Perth, Western Australia.

Participants:

Thirty-seven low-income parents (35 mothers, 2 fathers) of overweight children. Recruitment was performed by a social research company to access low-income parents residing across Perth.

Phenomenon of Interest:

Extent to which disadvantaged parents of overweight children engage with nutrition labeling on food products.

Analysis:

Transcripts were imported into NVivo 9 for coding and analysis.

Results:

Nutrition labeling had low salience for most study participants when purchasing food for their overweight children. Few recognized that their children had a weight problem, and as such they experienced little motivation to access or use nutrition labeling when purchasing foods for their children. An exception was apparent among some parents who were particularly concerned about food additives and actively interrogated ingredients lists to facilitate avoiding products containing contraindicated additives.

Conclusions and Implications:

Policy makers seeking to address obesity through food labeling may need to address low levels of salience among disadvantaged families, who are more likely to suffer weight problems and are thus most in need of effective food labeling.

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