fbpx Skip to content


A New Approach to Food Labeling

Can we persuade people to eat better?

Maybe graphic health messages on food and beverage packaging like those that adorn cigarette boxes could steer people toward better eating habits.

An Australian study published in the journal Appetite asked participants to rate healthy and unhealthy foods and choose which they would like to eat at the end of the experiment. Next they were shown negative and positive health messages: Some were text only; others had pictures. Study participants then had another chance to rate their desire for the foods.

The scientists found that combining images and negative messages was the most effective way to persuade people to steer away from unhealthy options like chips in favor of healthier foods such as fruit. By monitoring brain activity, the scientists found that warning labels fired up a part of the brain involved in self-control.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

Related Articles

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.