Charo Hodgkins

Dr Charo Hodgkins

Senior Lecturer & Director of Innovation for School of Psychology; Institute for Sustainability Fellow
+44 (0)1483 686891
15 AC 05
2023-24 Semester 1 - Office hrs Thursdays 15.00-17.00hrs


Areas of specialism

Social science methodologies; Responsible Research and Innovation; Behaviour change/Intervention development; Knowledge Exchange & Impact; Consumer behaviour; Food and food systems

University roles and responsibilities

  • Director of Innovation, School of Psychology
  • EDI Committee Member (School of Psychology)
  • Senate Academic Representative
  • Senate Academic Representative on Council
  • Institute of Sustainability Fellow

    My qualifications

    PhD - Communicating healthier food choice – Food composition data, front-of-pack nutrition labelling and health claims.
    University of Surrey
    BSc - Chemistry
    Kingston University

    Previous roles

    1997 - 1999
    Head of Technical Services
    Superdrug Stores PLC
    1993 - 1997
    European Quality Manager
    1989 - 1993
    Senior Research Scientist (Special Projects)
    1985 - 1989
    Product Development Chemist
    SmithKline Beecham (now GSK)


    Research interests

    Research projects



    Dimitris Gatsios, Angelo Antonini, Giovanni Gentile, Andrea Marcante, Clelia Pellicano, Lucia Macchiusi, Francesca Assogna, Gianfranco Spalletta, Heather Gage, Morro Touray, Lada Timotijevic, Charo Hodgkins, Maria Chondrogiorgi, George Rigas, Dimitrios I Fotiadis, Spyridon Konitsiotis (2020)Feasibility and Utility of mHealth for the Remote Monitoring of Parkinson Disease: Ancillary Study of the PD_manager Randomized Controlled Trial, In: JMIR mHealth and uHealth8(6)e16414

    Background: Mobile health, predominantly wearable technology and mobile apps, have been considered in Parkinson disease to provide valuable ecological data between face-to-face visits and improve monitoring of motor symptoms remotely. Objective: We explored the feasibility of using a technology-based mHealth platform comprising a smartphone in combination with a smartwatch and a pair of smart insoles, described in this study as the PD_manager system, to collect clinically meaningful data. We also explored outcomes and disease-related factors that are important determinants to establish feasibility. Finally, we further validated a tremor evaluation method with data collected while patients performed their daily activities. Methods: PD_manager trial was an open-label parallel group randomized study.The mHealth platform consists of a wristband, a pair of sensor insoles, a smartphone (with dedicated mobile Android apps) and a knowledge platform serving as the cloud backend. Compliance was assessed with statistical analysis and the factors affecting it using appropriate regression analysis. The correlation of the scores of our previous algorithm for tremor evaluation and the respective Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale estimations by clinicians were explored. Results: Of the 75 study participants, 65 (87%) completed the protocol. They used the PD_manager system for a median 11.57 (SD 3.15) days. Regression analysis suggests that the main factor associated with high use was caregivers’ burden. Motor Aspects of Experiences of Daily Living and patients’ self-rated health status also influence the system’s use. Our algorithm provided clinically meaningful data for the detection and evaluation of tremor. Conclusions: We found that PD patients, regardless of their demographics and disease characteristics, used the system for 11 to 14 days. The study further supports that mHealth can be an effective tool for the ecologically valid, passive, unobtrusive monitoring and evaluation of symptoms. Future studies will be required to demonstrate that an mHealth platform can improve disease management and care.

    The Childhood Obesity Plan aimed to reduce sugar and energy in foods through a voluntary Sugar Reduction Programme. Our primary objective was to determine whether this implementation strategy had been successful, focusing on the out-of-home sector. We used a repeated cross-sectional design to evaluate nutritional changes in desserts served by leading chain restaurants. We extracted nutrition information from online menus in Autumn/Winter 2020, for comparison with baseline (2017) and interim (2018) values extracted from third-party datasets. We assessed compliance with the 20% sugar reduction target and category-specific energy targets by product category and for pooled desserts. Overall, sugar/portion and energy/portion decreased by 11% and 4% respectively. Policy targets were achieved in 1 of 5 categories (ice cream: -38% sugar, p<0.001; -30% energy, p<0.001). Secondary outcomes were analysed for subgroups with the necessary data. Few chains significantly reduced sugar and/or energy across their dessert range. Energy/portion was positively associated with portion weight and sugar/portion but not with sugar/100g. More than half of adult desserts contained excessive sugar and/or saturated fat compared with dietary guidelines. Children’s desserts less frequently exceeded guidelines. These results demonstrate that voluntary measures can drive substantial change when technical, commercial and operational barriers can be overcome. 

    Catherine Gibbons, Beverley O'Hara, Dominic O'Connor, Charlotte Hardman, Moon Wilton, Joanne A Harrold, Eva Almiron-Roig, Santiago Navas-Carretero, Charo Elena Hodgkins, Julie Anne Nazare, Maud Alligier, Jose Alfredo Martínez, CE Scott, Louise Kjølbæk, Mie Normand, Cécile Rannou, E Blaak, Edith Feskens, Hariklia Moshoyiannis, Jason C G Halford, Anne Raben, Kristine Beaulieu, Graham Finlayson (2022)Acute and repeated impact of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers in solid and semi-solid foods on appetite: Protocol for a multicentre, cross-over, RCT in people with overweight/obesity - The SWEET Project, In: BMJ open12(12)pp. e063903-e063903

    Intake of free sugars in European countries is high and attempts to reduce sugar intake have been mostly ineffective. Non-nutritive sweeteners and sweetness enhancers (S&SEs) can maintain sweet taste in the absence of energy, but little is known about the impact of acute and repeated consumption of S&SE in foods on appetite. This study aims to evaluate the effect of acute and repeated consumption of two individual S&SEs and two S&SE blends in semisolid and solid foods on appetite and related behavioural, metabolic and health outcomes. A work package of the SWEET Project; this study consists of five double-blind randomised cross-over trials which will be carried out at five sites across four European countries, aiming to have n=213. Five food matrices will be tested across three formulations (sucrose-sweetened control vs two reformulated products with S&SE blends and no added sugar). Participants (body mass index 25-35 kg/m ; aged 18-60 years) will consume each formulation for 14 days. The primary endpoint is composite appetite score (hunger, inverse of fullness, desire to eat and prospective food consumption) over a 3-hour postprandial incremental area under the curve during clinical investigation days on days 1 and 14. The trial has been approved by national ethical committees and will be conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Results will be published in international peer-reviewed open-access scientific journals. Research data from the trial will be deposited in an open-access online research data archive. NCT04633681.

    Louise Kjølbæk, Yannis Manios, E Blaak, JA Martinez, Edith J M Feskens, Graham Finlayson, Sabina S H Andersen, Kyriakos Reppas, Santiago Navas-Carretero, Tanja C Adam, Charo Elena Hodgkins, Marta del Álamo, TJ Lam, Hariklia Moshoyiannis, Jason C G Halford, Joanne A Harrold, Anne Raben (2022)Protocol for a multicentre, parallel, randomised, controlled trial on the effect of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on health, obesity and safety in overweight adults and children: the SWEET project, In: BMJ Open12(10)e061075 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

    Introduction: The aim of this randomised controlled trial (RCT) is to investigate whether prolonged consumption of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers (S&SEs) within a healthy diet will improve weight loss maintenance and obesity-related risk factors and affect safety markers compared with sugar. Methods and analysis: SWEET (S&SEs: prolonged effects on health, obesity and safety) is a 1-year multicentre RCT including at least 330 adults with overweight (18–65 years, body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2) and 40 children (6–12 years, BMI-for-age >85th percentile). In an initial 2-month period, adults will consume a low-energy diet with the aim to achieve ≥5% weight loss. Children are advised to consume a generally healthy diet to maintain body weight, thus reducing their BMI-for-age z-score. In the following 10 months, participants will be randomised to follow a healthy ad libitum diet with or without S&SE products. Clinical investigations are scheduled at baseline, after 2, 6 and 12 months. The primary outcomes are body weight for efficacy and gut microbiota composition (in relation to metabolic health) for safety, both in adults. Secondary outcomes include anthropometry, risk markers for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, questionnaires including, for example, food preferences, craving and appetite and tests for allergenicity. Ethics and dissemination: The trial protocol has been approved by the following national ethical committees; The research ethics committees of the capital region (Denmark), approval code: H-19040679, The medical ethics committee of the University Hospital Maastricht and Maastricht University (the Netherlands), approval code: NL70977.068.19/METC19-056s, Research Ethics Committee of the University of Navarra (Spain), approval code: 2019.146 mod1, Research Ethics Committee of Harokopio University (Greece), approval code: 1810/18-06-2019. The trial will be conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Results will be published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals regardless of whether the findings are positive, negative or inconclusive.

    Eva Almiron-Roig, Santiago Navas-Carretero, Gabriele Castelnuovo, Louise Kjølbæk, Ana Romo-Hualde, Mie Normand, Niamh Maloney, Charlotte A Hardman, Charo E Hodgkins, Hariklia Moshoyiannis, Graham Finlayson, Corey Scott, Monique M Raats, Joanne A Harrold, Anne Raben, Jason C G Halford, J Alfredo Martínez (2023)Impact of acute consumption of beverages containing plant-based or alternative sweetener blends on postprandial appetite, food intake, metabolism, and gastro-intestinal symptoms: Results of the SWEET beverages trial, In: Appetite184106515

    Project SWEET examined the barriers and facilitators to the use of non-nutritive sweeteners and sweetness enhancers (hereafter "S&SE") alongside potential risks/benefits for health and sustainability. The Beverages trial was a double-blind multi-centre, randomised crossover trial within SWEET evaluating the acute impact of three S&SE blends (plant-based and alternatives) vs. a sucrose control on glycaemic response, food intake, appetite sensations and safety after a carbohydrate-rich breakfast meal. The blends were: mogroside V and stevia RebM; stevia RebA and thaumatin; and sucralose and acesulfame-potassium (ace-K). At each 4 h visit, 60 healthy volunteers (53% male; all with overweight/obesity) consumed a 330 mL beverage with either an S&SE blend (0 kJ) or 8% sucrose (26 g, 442 kJ), shortly followed by a standardised breakfast (∼2600 or 1800 kJ with 77 or 51 g carbohydrates, depending on sex). All blends reduced the 2-h incremental area-under-the-curve (iAUC) for blood insulin (p 

    Valentine Seymour, Maria Xenitidou, Lada Timotijevic, Charo Hodgkins, Eleanor Ratcliffe, Birgitta Gatersleben, Nigel Gilbert, Chris R. Jones (2022)Incorporating the Public Perspective into the Future Design of Smart Home Living’, In: HCI International 2022 Posters 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2022) Proceedings, Part IIpp. 362-367 Springer International Publishing

    User-Centred Design (UCD) researchers have been investigating smart homes for 20 years and have highlighted the approaches’ effectiveness in identifying the requirements of users. Despite the growing interest in smart homes, research has shown that its adoption remains low. This owes to the tendency for research to often use a technological-centred approach to improve a pre-existing product or tailor it to target users. Visions of smart homes may therefore not have been fully based on a clear understanding of users’ needs and sociotechnical issues of concern. Enabling the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart home technologies and related sociotechnical issues of concern in the early stages of the UCD process have been widely recommended. Specifically, there have been calls to engage the public in sharing responsibility for developing data privacy agreements, data governance frameworks, and effectively domesticating technologies into life and ‘home’ systems. This paper introduces the citizens’ jury method to enable the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart homes and related sociotechnical issues. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the usability and smart technology sectors. Findings from this paper are based on a cross-section of UK citizens’, exploring their opinions on sociotechnical issues of data security, accessibility to and control over use of devices and technological appliances associated with smart homes. A set of recommendation are developed to provide guidance and suggested actions on approaching these issues in the future.

    Lada Timotijevic, Charo Elena Hodgkins, Matthew Peacock, Monique Maria Raats (2021)Conceptualizing Responsibility in Food Research and Innovation to Promote Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems, In: Frontiers in sustainable food systems5584566 Frontiers Media

    Responsibility is crucial to governance and key to achieving legitimacy within complex systems, yet there is limited attention to how it should be conceptualized within the context of food research and innovation (R&I). Understanding how diverse stakeholders in food R&I conceptualize responsibility is vital because it shapes the way problems are identified, goals are set and solutions are put in place. We report on empirical research with diverse stakeholders across Europe to understand and map the dimensions of responsibility for food R&I to support healthy and sustainable food systems. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 stakeholders working in R&I in the cutting-edge domains of: cultured meat as a substitute for livestock meat; new crop breeding of potatoes; and a new approach to obesity reduction that focuses on weight acceptance. Drawing from the empirical evidence collected, we developed a classification system that reflects various conceptualizations of stakeholders' responsibility for food R&I to support healthy and sustainable food systems. Our thematic analysis revealed four overlapping rationales of responsibility—accountability, impact, reflexivity, and responsiveness, and characterized them in terms of: who the researcher is responsible to; whether the assessments of responsibility focus on R&I processes or impact; whether responsibility implies societal engagement; and how responsibility is assessed—retrospectively or prospectively. The article provides a basis for systematic application of these criteria to the specific instances of food R&I governance and for future joint decisions, about the ways to allocate responsibilities.

    V. Seymour, M. Xenitidou, L. Timotijevic, C. E. Hodgkins, E. Ratcliffe, B. Gatersleben, N. Gilbert, C. R. Jones (2024)Public acceptance of smart home technologies in the UK: a citizens’ jury study, In: Journal of decision systems Taylor & Francis

    Despite growing interest, public uptake of 'smart home technologies' in the UK remains low. Barriers for accepting and opting to use smart home technologies have been linked to various socio-technical issues, including data governance. Understanding barriers for accepting to use smart home technologies is therefore important for improving their future design. Equally, enabling the public to help shape design features of these technologies from evidence-informed and deliberative approaches is also important. However, this remains an understudied area. This article reports a UK study exploring public opinion towards smart home technologies, using a Citizens' Jury method. Findings indicate that whilst participants identified the benefits of smart home technologies, participants' data sharing intentions and practices are contingent upon the condition of trust in technology developers. Study outcomes could support practitioners and policymakers in making informed, citizen-led decisions about how to adapt existing data governance frameworks pertaining to smart home technologies.

    L Timotijevic, S Astley, M.J Bogaardt, T Bucher, I Carr, G Copani, J de la Cueva, T Eftimov, P Finglas, S Hieke, C.E Hodgkins, B Koroušić Seljak, N Klepacz, K Pasch, M.M Raats, M Maringer, M Roe, T Selnes, B.E Mikkelsen, K.T Ofei, H van der Veen, P van’t Veer, K Poppe, C Sadler, G Pourabdollahian, A Normann, K Zimmermann (2021)Designing a research infrastructure (RI) on food behaviour and health: Balancing user needs, business model, governance mechanisms and technology, In: Trends in food science & technology116pp. 405-414 Elsevier Ltd

    A better understanding of food-related behaviour and its determinants can be achieved through harmonisation and linking of the various data-sources and knowledge platforms. We describe the key decision-making in the development of a prototype of the Determinants and Intake Platform (DI Platform), a data platform that aims to harmonise and link data on consumer food behaviour. It will be part of the Food Nutrition Health Research Infrastructure (FNH-RI) that will facilitate health, social and food sciences. The decision-making was based on the evidence of user needs and data characteristics that guided the specification of the key building blocks of the DI Platform. Eight studies were carried out, including consumer online survey; interview studies of key DI Platform stakeholders; desk research and workshops. Consumers were most willing to share data with universities, then industry and government. Trust, risk perception and altruism predicted willingness to share. For most other stakeholders non-proprietary data was most likely to be shared. Lack of data standards, and incentives for sharing were the main barriers for sharing data among the key stakeholders. The value of various data types would hugely increase if linked with other sources. Finding the right balance between optimizing data sharing and minimizing ethical and legal risks was considered a key challenge. The development of DI Platform is based on careful balancing of the user, technical, business, legal and ethical requirements, following the FAIR principles and the need for financial sustainability, technical flexibility, transparency and multi-layered organisational governance. •There is a need to better support science on food intake and its determinants (DI).•DI Platform links consumer, business, science-generated data on food consumption.•Decision-making is based on evaluations of user needs and data characteristics.•The final design balances user, technology, business and governance requirements.•DI Platform supports the Food Nutrition Health Research Infrastructure initiative.

    Kathryn Hayley Hart, Charo Elena Hodgkins, Tammy Pepper (2023)Dataset for paper: Tackling (Childhood) Obesity through a Voluntary Food Reformulation Policy: A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study Investigating Nutritional Changes in the Out-of-Home Sector, In: Tackling (Childhood) Obesity through a Voluntary Food Reformulation Policy: A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study Investigating Nutritional Changes in the Out-of-Home Sector University of Surrey

    This paper (Nutrients 2023, 15, 3149. analyses 2017-2020 changes in nutritional content for desserts served by major chain restaurants in the UK, reviews progress towards sugar and energy targets established as part of the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, and discusses implications for future reformulation programmes. This dataset (Excel spreadsheet) combines nutritional data collected from restaurant websites from October to December 2020, with unpublished raw data for 2017 and 2018 supplied confidentially by Public Health England (PHE) and additional raw data for 2018 from a previously published study. Desserts are classified using the categories specified by PHE in their technical guidance for the Sugar Reduction Programme. Nutritional information (g/portion and/or g/100g) for each dessert is provided as listed on the menus or in the third-party datasets from which they were extracted. Each dessert was allocated a unique ID at the time of data collection/extraction; some items were subsequently excluded during data cleaning as described in the paper. A total of 3466 items were included in the analysis.

    CHARO ELENA HODGKINS, LADA TIMOTIJEVIC (2022)Overview of societal and ethical issues for designing a governance framework for deployment of RRI best practices within the construction industry for 'Smart Homes' GlobalHome, In: Overview of issues for designing best practices surrounding informed and implied consent within field of data capture: GlobalHome 'Smart Homes' University of Surrey
    C Hodgkins, J Barnett, G Wasowicz-Kirylo, M Stysko-Kunkowska, Y Gulcan, Y Kustepeli, S Akgungor, G Chryssochoidis, L Fernández-Celemin, S Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann, M Gibbs, MM Raats (2012)Understanding how consumers categorise nutritional labels: A consumer derived typology for front-of-pack nutrition labelling., In: Appetite59(3)pp. 806-817 Elsevier

    Significant ongoing debate exists amongst stakeholders as to the best front-of-pack labelling approach and emerging evidence suggests that the plethora of schemes may cause confusion for the consumer. To gain a better understanding of the relevant psychological phenomena and consumer perspectives surrounding FoP labelling schemes and their optimal development a Multiple Sort Procedure study involving free sorting of a range of nutritional labels presented on cards was performed in four countries (n=60). The underlying structure of the qualitative data generated was explored using Multiple Scalogram Analysis. Elicitation of categorisations from consumers has the potential to provide a very important perspective in this arena and results demonstrated that the amount of information contained within a nutrition label has high salience for consumers, as does the health utility of the label although a dichotomy exists in the affective evaluation of the labels containing varying degrees of information aggregation. Classification of exiting front-of-pack labelling systems on a proposed dimension of 'directiveness' leads to a better understanding of why some schemes may be more effective than others in particular situations or for particular consumers. Based on this research an enhanced hypothetical front-of-pack labelling scheme which combines both directive and non-directive elements is proposed.

    M Dean, M Spence, C Hodgkins, MM Raats (2015)Front-of-pack (FOP) labelling of foods and beverages, In: P Berryman (eds.), Advances in Food and Beverage Labelling Information and Regulations(7)pp. 113-131 Woodhead Publishing Limited

    Many food and drink products now display nutritional information on the front of the food package, so called front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labels or nutrition signpost labels, which serve to provide a simple and visible summary of the products nutritional quality. This chapter reviews FOP labelling in the EU. It covers the history of FOP development, the different types of FOP labelling, the underpinnings of the different FOP schemes as well as ways of classifying FOP schemes. The impact FOP labels have on consumers and the food industry are discussed with a useful section on future trends. A list of review papers are presented for further reading.

    P Scarborough, Charo Hodgkins, Monique Raats, RA Harrington, G Cowburn, M Dean, A Doherty, C Foster, E Juszczak, A Matthews, A Mizdrak, C Ni Mhurchu, Richard Shepherd, L Tiomotijevic, N Winstone, M Rayner (2015)Protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial of an intervention to increase the use of traffic light food labelling in UK shoppers (the FLICC trial), In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies1(21)21 BioMed Central

    Background Traffic light labelling of foods—a system that incorporates a colour-coded assessment of the level of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt on the front of packaged foods—has been recommended by the UK Government and is currently in use or being phased in by many UK manufacturers and retailers. This paper describes a protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial of an intervention designed to increase the use of traffic light labelling during real-life food purchase decisions. Methods/design The objectives of this two-arm randomised controlled pilot trial are to assess recruitment, retention and data completion rates, to generate potential effect size estimates to inform sample size calculations for the main trial and to assess the feasibility of conducting such a trial. Participants will be recruited by email from a loyalty card database of a UK supermarket chain. Eligible participants will be over 18 and regular shoppers who frequently purchase ready meals or pizzas. The intervention is informed by a review of previous interventions encouraging the use of nutrition labelling and the broader behaviour change literature. It is designed to impact on mechanisms affecting belief and behavioural intention formation as well as those associated with planning and goal setting and the adoption and maintenance of the behaviour of interest, namely traffic light label use during purchases of ready meals and pizzas. Data will be collected using electronic sales data via supermarket loyalty cards and web-based questionnaires and will be used to estimate the effect of the intervention on the nutrition profile of purchased ready meals and pizzas and the behavioural mechanisms associated with label use. Data collection will take place over 48 weeks. A process evaluation including semi-structured interviews and web analytics will be conducted to assess feasibility of a full trial. Discussion The design of the pilot trial allows for efficient recruitment and data collection. The intervention could be generalised to a wider population if shown to be feasible in the main trial. Trial registration ISRCTN: ISRCTN19316955 webcite

    Richard A Harrington, Peter Scarborough, Charo Hodgkins, Monique M Raats, Gill Cowburn, Moira Dean, Aiden Doherty, Charlie Foster, Edmund Juszczak, Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Naomi Winstone, Richard Shepherd, Lada Timotijevic, Mike Rayner (2019)A pilot randomised controlled trial of a digital intervention aimed at improving food purchasing behaviour: the Front of pack Labels Impact on Consumer Choice (FLICC) study, In: JMIR Formative Research Journal of Medical Internet Research

    Background: Most food in the UK is purchased in supermarkets and many of these purchases are routinely tracked through supermarket loyalty card data. Using such data may be an effective way to develop remote public health interventions and to measure objectively their effectiveness at changing food purchasing behaviour. Objectives: The FLICC study is a pilot randomised controlled trial of a digital behaviour change intervention. This pilot trial aimed to collect data on recruitment and retention rates and to provide estimates of effect sizes for the primary outcome (healthiness of ready meals and pizzas purchased) to inform a larger trial. Methods: The intervention consisted of a website where participants could access tailored feedback on previous purchases of ready meals and pizzas, set goals, model behaviour and practice using traffic light labels. The control consisted of web-based information on traffic light labelling. Participants were recruited via email from a list of loyalty card holders held by the participating supermarket. All food and drink purchases for the participants for the six months prior to recruitment, during the six week intervention period and during a twelve week wash out period were transferred to the research team by the participating supermarket. Healthiness of ready meal and pizzas was measured using a pre-developed scale based solely on the traffic light colours on the foods. Questionnaires were completed at recruitment, end of intervention and end of wash out to estimate the effect of the intervention on variables that mediate behaviour change (e.g. belief and intention formation). Results: We recruited 496 participants from an initial email to 50,000 people. Only three people withdrew from the study and purchase data were received for all other participants. 208 participants completed all three questionnaires. There was no difference in the healthiness of purchased ready meals and pizzas between the intervention and control arms either during the intervention period (P = 0.315) or at wash-out (P = 0.594). Conclusions: Whilst the FLICC study did not find evidence of an impact of the intervention on food purchasing behaviour, the unique methods used in this pilot trial are informative for future studies that plan to use supermarket loyalty card data in collaboration with supermarket partners. The experience of the trial showcases the possibilities and challenges associated with the use of loyalty card data in public health research.

    MB Egan, A Fragodt, M Raats, C Hodgkins, M Lumbers (2007)The importance of harmonizing food composition data across Europe, In: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition61(7)pp. 813-821

    Objective: To examine the role of food composition data in Europe in four sectors, namely health, trade regulation and legislation, agriculture and the environment. Results: The need for further harmonization of data across Europe is clearly identified and evidenced from a number of previous successful European collaborations. Conclusions: Data on the nutritional composition of foods are essential for a broad spectrum of activities, including public health nutrition, research, the food industry and government policy development and implementation. With the expansion of the European Union and the concomitant increase in cross border trade and cooperation harmonizing food composition data becomes a more important issue than ever. Harmonization is not solely a technical issue, but also involves creating durable and sustainable structures to maintain the viability of the data. These are some of the issues currently being addressed by the European Food Information Resource Network of Excellence.

    Charo Hodgkins, Bernadette Egan, Matthew Peacock, Naomi Klepacz, Krista Miklavec, Igor Pravst, Jure Pohar, Azucena Gracia, Andrea Groeppel-Klein, Mike Rayner, Monique Raats (2019)Understanding How Consumers Categorise Health Related Claims on Foods: A Consumer-Derived Typology of Health-Related Claims, In: Nutrients11(3) MDPI

    The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) EC No 1924/2006 aims to provide an appropriate level of consumer protection whilst supporting future innovation and fair competition within the EU food industry. However, consumers’ interpretation of health claims is less well understood. There is a lack of evidence on the extent to which consumers are able to understand claims defined by this regulatory framework. Utilising the Multiple Sort Procedure (MSP), a study was performed (N = 100 participants across five countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom) to facilitate development of a framework of health-related claims encompassing dimensions derived from consumers. Our results provide useful insight into how consumers make sense of these claims and how claims may be optimised to enhance appropriate consumer understanding. They suggest consumers may not consciously differentiate between a nutrition claim and a health claim in the way that regulatory experts do and provide insight into where this might occur. A consumer-derived typology of health-related claims based on three key dimensions is proposed: (1) Familiarity with the nutrient, substance or food stated in the claim; (2) statement type in terms of simplicity/complexity; (3) relevance of the claim, either personally or for a stated population group.

    Igor Pravst, Charo Hodgkins, Liisa Lähteenmäki, Rosalind Malcolm, Anita Kušar, Viktorija Kulikovskaja, Katja Žmitek, Krista Miklavec, Monique Raats, Živa Lavriša (2017)Recommendations for successful substantiation of new health claims in the European Union, In: Trends in Food Science & Technology71pp. 259-263 Elsevier

    Background: While functional foods offer promise for public health and innovation in the food industry, the efficiency of such foods should be assured to protect consumers from misleading claims. Globally, many countries regulate the communication of the health effects of such foods to final consumers. Scope and approach: In the European Union (EU), the use of health claims was harmonized in 2006. All claims need to be scientifically assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and pre-approved. Implementing the regulation has involved a steep learning curve for stakeholders, resulting in many health claims being rejected. The EU-funded REDICLAIM project used existing guidance documents, analyses of Scientific Opinions on new health claim applications, and a series of interviews with experts involved in such applications to identify key points in the process of authorizing new health claims. Key findings and conclusions: Recommendations for the successful substantiation of new health claims in the EU were prepared. The substantiation of health claims is primarily based on human efficacy studies, and greater resources are required to authorize more innovative claims. The reported recommendations should be seen as a starting point for researchers in the area of nutrition and food technology, and for those dealing with functional foods, including the food industry.

    MM Raats, S Hieke, C Jola, C Hodgkins, J Kennedy, J Wills (2015)Reference amounts utilised in front of package nutrition labelling; impact on product healthfulness evaluations, In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION69(5)pp. 619-625 NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

    BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The research question addressed in this paper is how different reference amounts utilised in front of package nutrition labelling influence evaluation of product healthfulness. SUBJECTS/METHODS: A total of 13,117 participants from six European countries (Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden) were recruited via online panels. A mixed between/within-subject factorial design was employed with food (biscuits, sandwiches, yogurts), healthfulness and presence of Guideline Daily Amounts as within-subjects factors and reference amount ('per 100 g', 'typical portion', 'half portion') and country as between-subjects factors. RESULTS: Overall, people correctly ranked foods according to their objective healthfulness as defined by risk nutrients alone, and could distinguish between more and less healthful variants of foods. General healthfulness associations with the three product categories do not appear to have had a strong influence on product ratings. This study shows that where the reference amount of 'per 100 g' is very different from the 'typical' portion size, as was the case for biscuits, products with a 'per 100 g' label are rated significantly less healthful than the 'typical' or 'half typical' portions. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that across the three food categories, consumers do factor the reference amount, that is, the quantity of food for which the nutritional information is being presented, into their judgements of healthfulness. Therefore, appropriate reference amounts are also of importance for the effective presentation of nutritional information.

    B Egan, C Hodgkins, A Fragodt, MM Raats (2011)Compilation of food composition data sets: an analysis of user needs through the Use Case approach., In: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition65(6)pp. 757-760 Nature Publishing Group

    Background/Objectives:The objective of this study was to identify the common requirements of users involved in the compilation of food composition data sets with a view to informing the development of a common access system to food composition data, within the European Food Information Resource (EuroFIR) project.Subjects/Methods:A number of examples of food composition data set compilation have been examined using the Use Case approach, namely the compilation of a data set for a national nutrition survey, for a cross-national nutrition study and for a nutritional software programme.Results:The key user requirement identified from the compilation step analysed by the Use Case approach is the increased availability of and access to more detailed food composition data on a wider range of foods and nutrients.Conclusions:Food composition data serve a variety of purposes, and different user groups will often have both common needs and more individual or specific needs of their data sets. The development of Use Cases for specific processes effectively identifies the needs of users, highlighting any similarities and/or differences in those needs. The application of the Use Case approach to support the software development activities within EuroFIR will ensure that user needs are effectively identified and captured in a systematic and documented way.

    Morro Touray, A Antonini, G Gentile, M Giglio, A Marcante, Heather Gage, D Fotiadis, D Gatsios, S Konitsiotis, Lada Timotijevic, B Egan, Charo Hodgkins, R Biundo, C Pellicano (2018)Acceptability to patients, carers and clinicians of a mHealth platform for the management of Parkinson's disease (PD_Manager): study protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial, In: Trials19(492) BioMed Central

    Background: Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological condition causing multiple motor and non-motor symptoms that have a serious adverse effect on quality of life. Management is problematic due to the variable and fluctuating nature of symptoms, often hourly and daily. The PD_Manager mHealth platform aims to provide a continuous feed of data on symptoms to improve clinical understanding of the status of any individual patient and inform care planning. The objectives of this trial are to (1) assess patient (and family carer) perspectives of PD_ Manager regarding comfort, acceptability and ease of use; (2) assess clinician views about the utility of the data generated by PD_Manager for clinical decision making and the acceptability of the system in clinical practice. Methods/design: This trial is an unblinded, parallel, two-group, randomised controlled pilot study. A total of 200 persons with Parkinson’s disease (Hoehn and Yahr stage 3, experiencing motor fluctuations at least 2 h per day), with primary family carers, in three countries (110 Rome, 50 Venice, Italy; 20 each in Ioannina, Greece and Surrey, England) will be recruited. Following informed consent, baseline information will be gathered, including the following: age, gender, education, attitudes to technology (patient and carer); time since Parkinson’s diagnosis, symptom status and comorbidities (patient only). Randomisation will assign participants (1:1 in each country), to PD_Manager vs control, stratifying by age (1 ≤ 70 : 1 > 70) and gender (60% M: 40% F). The PD_Manager system captures continuous data on motor symptoms, sleep, activity, speech quality and emotional state using wearable devices (wristband, insoles) and a smartphone (with apps) for storing and transmitting the information. Control group participants will be asked to keep a symptom diary covering the same elements as PD_Manager records. After a minimum of two weeks, each participant will attend a consultation with a specialist doctor for review of the data gathered (by either means), and changes to management will be initiated as indicated. Patients, carers and clinicians will be asked for feedback on the acceptability and utility of the data collection methods. The PD_ Manager intervention, compared to a symptom diary, will be evaluated in a cost-consequences framework Discussion: Information gathered will inform further development of the PD_Manager system and a larger effectiveness trial. Trial registration: ISRCTN Registry, ISRCTN17396879. Registered on 15 March 2017.

    C Hodgkins, MM Raats, MB Egan, A Fragodt, J Buttriss, B McKevith (2010)Optimising food composition data flow within the UK food supply chain and to external stakeholders, In: Journal of Food Composition and Analysis23(7)pp. 749-752
    Lada Timotijevic, CHARO ELENA HODGKINS, Carys Banks, Patrice Rusconi, Bernadette Egan, Matthew Peacock, Ellen Seiss, Morro Touray, Heather Gage, C. Pellicano, G. Spalletta, F. Assogna, M. Giglio, A. Marcante, G. Gentile, I. Cikajilo, D. Gatsios, S. Konitsiotis, D. Fotiadis (2020)Designing a mHealth Clinical Decision Support System for Parkinson’s Disease: A Theoretically Grounded User Needs Approach, In: BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making2034 BMC (Springer Nature)

    Background: Despite the established evidence and theoretical advances explaining human judgments under uncertainty, developments of mobile health (mHealth) Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) have not explicitly applied the psychology of decision making to the study of user needs. We report on a user needs approach to develop a prototype of a mHealth CDSS for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which is theoretically grounded in the psychological literature about expert decision making and judgement under uncertainty. Methods: A suite of user needs studies was conducted in 4 European countries (Greece, Italy, Slovenia, the UK) prior to the development of PD_Manager, a mHealth-based CDSS designed for Parkinson’s Disease, using wireless technology. Study 1 undertook Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) including elicitation of user needs, cognitive demands and perceived risks/benefits (ethical considerations) associated with the proposed CDSS, through structured interviews of prescribing clinicians (N=47). Study 2 carried out computational modelling of prescribing clinicians’ (N=12) decision strategies based on social judgment theory. Study 3 was a vignette study of prescribing clinicians’ (N=18) willingness to change treatment based on either self-reported symptoms data, devices-generated symptoms data or combinations of both. Results: Study 1 indicated that system development should move away from the traditional silos of ‘motor’ and ‘non-motor’ symptom evaluations and suggest that presenting data on symptoms according to goal-based domains would be the most beneficial approach, the most important being patients’ overall Quality of Life (QoL). The computational modelling in Study 2 extrapolated different factor combinations when making judgements about different questions. Study 3 indicated that the clinicians were equally likely to change the care plan based on information about the change in the patient’s condition from the patient’s self-report and the wearable devices. 3 Conclusions: Based on our approach, we could formulate the following principles of mHealth design: 1) enabling shared decision making between the clinician, patient and the carer; 2) flexibility that accounts for diagnostic and treatment variation among clinicians; 3) monitoring of information integration from multiple sources. Our approach highlighted the central importance of the patient-clinician relationship in clinical decision making and the relevance of theoretical as opposed to algorithm (technology)-based modelling of human judgment.

    Charo Hodgkins, Monique Raats, Christopher Fife-Schaw, Matthew Peacock, A Groeppel-Klein, J Koenigstorfer, G Wasowicz, M Stysko-Kunkowska, Y Gulcan, Y Kustepeli, M Gibbs, Richard Shepherd, KG Grunert (2015)Guiding healthier food choice: systematic comparison of four front-of-pack labelling systems and their effect on judgements of product healthiness, In: British Journal of Nutrition113(10)pp. 1652-1663 Cambridge University Press

    Different front-of-pack (FOP) labelling systems have been developed in Europe by industry and organisations concerned with health promotion. A study (n 2068) was performed to establish the extent to which inclusion of the most prevalent FOP systems--guideline daily amounts (GDA), traffic lights (TL), GDA+TL hybrid (HYB) and health logos (HL)--impact consumer perceptions of healthiness over and above the provision of a FOP basic label (BL) containing numerical nutritional information alone. The design included within- and between-subjects factors. The within-subjects factors were: food (pizzas, yogurts and biscuits), healthiness of the food (high health, medium health and low health) and the repeated measurements under BL and test FOP label conditions. The between-subjects factors were: the system (GDA, TL, GDA+TL hybrid, HL), portion size (typical portion size and a 50% reduction of a typical portion) and country (the UK, Germany, Poland and Turkey). Although the FOP systems tested did result in small improvements for objective understanding under some conditions, there was little difference between the provision of an FOP label containing basic numerical nutritional information alone or between the various systems. Thus, any structured and legible presentation of key nutrient and energy information on the FOP label is sufficient to enable consumers to detect a healthier alternative within a food category when provided with foods that have distinctly different levels of healthiness. Future research should focus on developing greater understanding of the psychological and contextual factors that impact motivation and the opportunity to use the various FOP systems in real-world shopping settings.

    Matthew Peacock, Mihaela Badea, Flavia Bruno, Lada Timotijevic, Martina Laccisaglia, Charo Hodgkins, Monique Raats, Bernadette Egan (2019)Herbal supplements in the print media: communicating benefits and risks, In: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine19196pp. 1-14 BMC

    Background The rise in use of food supplements based on botanical ingredients (herbal supplements) is depicted as part of a trend empowering consumers to manage their day-to-day health needs, which presupposes access to clear and accurate information to make effective choices. Evidence regarding herbal supplement efficacy is extremely variable so recent regulations eliminating unsubstantiated claims about potential effects leave producers able to provide very little information about their products. Medical practitioners are rarely educated about herbal supplements and most users learn about them via word-of-mouth, allowing dangerous misconceptions to thrive, chief among them the assumption that natural products are inherently safe. Print media is prolific among the information channels still able to freely discuss herbal supplements. Method This study thematically analyses how 76 newspaper/magazine articles from the UK, Romania and Italy portray the potential risks and benefits of herbal supplements. Results Most articles referenced both risks and benefits and were factually accurate but often lacked context and impartiality. More telling was how the risks and benefits were framed in service of a chosen narrative, the paucity of authoritative information allowing journalists leeway to recontextualise herbal supplements in ways that serviced the goals and values of their specific publications and readerships. Conclusion Providing sufficient information to empower consumers should not be the responsibility of print media, instead an accessible source of objective information is required.

    B Egan, C Hodgkins, R Shepherd, L Timotijevic, MM Raats (2011)An overview of consumer attitudes and beliefs about plant food supplements., In: Food and Function2(12)pp. 747-752 Royal Society of Chemistry

    The use of dietary supplements is increasing globally and this includes the use of plant food supplements (PFS). A variety of factors may be influencing this increased consumption including the increasing number of older people in society, mistrust in conventional medicine and the perception that natural is healthy. Consumer studies in this area are limited, with a focus on dietary supplements in general, and complicated by the use of certain plant food supplements as herbal medicines. Research indicates that higher use of dietary supplements has been associated with being female, being more educated, having a higher income, being white and being older, however the drivers for consumption of supplements are complex, being influenced by both demographic and health-related factors. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of current knowledge about the users and the determinants of usage of plant food supplements. With growing consumption of these products, the need for effective risk-benefit assessment becomes ever more important and an insight into who uses these types of products and why is an important starting point for any future science-based decisions made by policy makers, PFS manufacturers and ultimately by consumers themselves.

    A Garcia-Alvarez, Mary Egan, S de Klein, L Dima, FM Maggi, M Isoniemi, L Ribas-Barba, Monique Raats, EM Meissner, M Badea, F Bruno, M Salmenhaara, R Mila-Villarroel, V Knaze, Charo Hodgkins, A Marculescu, L Uusitalo, P Restani, L Serra-Majem (2014)Usage of Plant Food Supplements across Six European Countries: Findings from the PlantLIBRA Consumer Survey, In: PLoS ONE9(3) Public Library of Science

    Background The popularity of botanical products is on the rise in Europe, with consumers using them to complement their diets or to maintain health, and products are taken in many different forms (e.g. teas, juices, herbal medicinal products, plant food supplements (PFS)). However there is a scarcity of data on the usage of such products at European level. Objective To provide an overview of the characteristics and usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries. Design Data on PFS usage were collected in a cross-sectional, retrospective survey of PFS consumers using a bespoke frequency of PFS usage questionnaire. Subjects/setting A total sample of 2359 adult PFS consumers from Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Data analyses Descriptive analyses were conducted, with all data stratified by gender, age, and country. Absolute frequencies, percentages and 95% confidence intervals are reported. Results Overall, an estimated 18.8% of screened survey respondents used at least one PFS. Characteristics of PFS consumers included being older, well-educated, never having smoked and self-reporting health status as “good or very good”. Across countries, 491 different botanicals were identified in the PFS products used, with Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo), Oenothera biennis (Evening primrose) and Cynara scolymus (Artichoke) being most frequently reported; the most popular dose forms were capsules and pills/tablets. Most consumers used one product and half of all users took single-botanical products. Some results varied across countries. Conclusions The PlantLIBRA consumer survey is unique in reporting on usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries. The survey highlights the complexity of measuring the intake of such products, particularly at pan-European level. Incorporating measures of the intake of botanicals in national dietary surveys would provide much-needed data for comprehensive risk and benefit assessments at the European level.

    Naomi Klepacz, RA Nash, Mary Egan, Monique Raats, Charo Hodgkins (2015)When Is an Image a Health Claim? A False-Recollection Method to Detect Implicit Inferences About Products’ Health Benefits, In: Health Psychology35(8)pp. 898-907 American Psychological Association

    Objective: Images on food and dietary supplement packaging might lead people to infer (appropriately or inappropriately) certain health benefits of those products. Research on this issue largely involves direct questions, which could (a) elicit inferences that would not be made unprompted, and (b) fail to capture inferences made implicitly. Using a novel memory-based method, in the present research, we explored whether packaging imagery elicits health inferences without prompting, and the extent to which these inferences are made implicitly. Method: In 3 experiments, participants saw fictional product packages accompanied by written claims. Some packages contained an image that implied a health-related function (e.g., a brain), and some contained no image. Participants studied these packages and claims, and subsequently their memories for seen and unseen claims were tested. Results: When a health image was featured on a package, participants often subsequently recognized health claims that— despite being implied by the image—were not truly presented. In Experiment 2, these recognition errors persisted despite an explicit warning against treating the images as informative. In Experiment 3, these findings were replicated in a large consumer sample from 5 European countries, and with a cued-recall test. Conclusion: These findings confirm that images can act as health claims, by leading people to infer health benefits without prompting. These inferences appear often to be implicit, and could therefore be highly pervasive. The data underscore the importance of regulating imagery on product packaging; memory-based methods represent innovative ways to measure how leading (or misleading) specific images can be.

    Adrian P. Banks, Bernadette Egan, Charo E. Hodgkins, Matthew Peacock, Monique M. Raats (2018)The role of causal models and beliefs in interpreting health claims, In: British Journal of Health Psychology23(4)pp. 933-948 Wiley

    Objective: Health claims on food packaging are regulated to inform and protect consumers, however many consumers do not accurately interpret the meaning of the claims. Whilst research has shown different types of misinterpretation, it is not clear how those interpretations are formed. The aim of this study is to elicit the causal beliefs and causal models about food and health held by consumers, i.e. their understanding of the causal relationships between nutrients, health outcomes and the causal pathways connecting them, and investigate how well this knowledge explains the variation in inferences they draw about health benefits from health claims. Method: 400 participants from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia, and the UK were presented with 7 authorised health claims and drew inferences about the health benefits of consuming nutrients specified in the claim. Then their personal causal models of health were elicited along with their belief in the truth and familiarity with the claims. Results: The strength of inferences about health benefits that participants drew from the claims were predicted independently by the strength of the relevant causal pathways within the causal model, and belief in the truth of the claim, but not familiarity with the claim. Participants drew inferences about overall health benefits of the nutrients by extrapolating from their causal models of health. Conclusion: Consumers’ interpretation of claims is associated with their belief in the claim and their causal models of health. This prior knowledge is used to interpret the claim and draw inferences about overall health benefits that go beyond the information in the claim. Therefore efforts to improve consumers’ understanding and interpretation of health claims must address both their wider causal models of health and their knowledge of specific claims.

    P Scarborough, A Matthews, H Eyles, A Kaur, Charo Hodgkins, Monique Raats, M Rayner (2015)Reds are more important than greens: how UK supermarket shoppers use the different information on a traffic light nutrition label in a choice experiment, In: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity12ARTN 1 BioMed Central

    Background: Colour coded front-of-pack nutrition labelling (‘traffic light labelling’) has been recommended for use in the UK since 2006. The voluntary scheme is used by all the major retailers and some manufacturers. It is not clear how consumers use these labels to make a single decision about the relative healthiness of foods. Our research questions were: Which of the four nutrients on UK traffic light labels (total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt) has the most influence on decisions? Do green lights or red lights have a greater influence? Are there age and gender differences in how people use the colour and nutrient information? Methods: We recruited participants from a UK supermarket chain membership list to conduct an online choice experiment in May 2014. We analysed data using multilevel logisitic models with food choices (n = 3321) nested in individuals (n = 187) as the unit of analysis. Results: A food with more reds was 11.4 (95 % confidence intervals: 10.3, 12.5) times less likely to be chosen as healthy, whereas a food with more greens was 6.1 (5.6, 6.6) times more likely to be chosen as healthy. Foods with better colours on saturated fat and salt were 7.3 (6.7, 8.0) and 7.1 (6.5, 7.8) times more likely to be chosen as healthy – significantly greater than for total fat (odds ratio 4.8 (4.4, 5.3)) and sugar (5.2 (4.7, 5.6)). Results were broadly similar for different genders and age groups. Conclusions: We found that participants were more concerned with avoiding reds than choosing greens, and that saturated fat and salt had a greater influence on decisions regarding healthiness than total fat and sugar. This could influence decisions about food reformulation and guidance on using nutrition labelling.

    J Aschemann-Witzel, KG Grunert, HCM van Trijp, S Bialkova, MM Raats, C Hodgkins, G Wasowicz-Kirylo, J Koenigstorfer (2013)Effects of nutrition label format and product assortment on the healthfulness of food choice, In: APPETITE71pp. 63-74 ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
    LADA TIMOTIJEVIC, Indira Carr, Javier De La Cueva, Tome Eftimov, CHARO ELENA HODGKINS, Barbara Korousic Seljak, Bent E. Mikkelsen, Trond Selnes, Pieter van’t Veer, Karin Zimmermann (2022)Responsible Governance for a Food and Nutrition E-Infrastructure: Case Study of the Determinants and Intake Data Platform, In: Frontiers in Nutrition Nutrition Methodology8 Frontiers Media

    The focus of the current paper is on a design of responsible governance of food consumer science e-infrastructure using the case study Determinants and Intake Data Platform (DI Data Platform). One of the key challenges for implementation of the DI Data Platform is how to develop responsible governance that observes the ethical and legal frameworks of big data research and innovation, whilst simultaneously capitalizing on huge opportunities offered by open science and the use of big data in food consumer science research. We address this challenge with a specific focus on four key governance considerations: data type and technology; data ownership and intellectual property; data privacy and security; and institutional arrangements for ethical governance. The paper concludes with a set of responsible research governance principles that can inform the implementation of DI Data Platform, and in particular: consider both individual and group privacy; monitor the power and control (e.g., between the scientist and the research participant) in the process of research; question the veracity of new knowledge based on big data analytics; understand the diverse interpretations of scientists’ responsibility across different jurisdictions.

    S Malam, S Clegg, S Kirwan, S McGinigal, MM Raats, R Shepherd, J Barnett, V Senior, C Hodgkins (2009)Comprehension and use of UK nutrition signpost labelling schemes Food Standards Agency

    This is the most comprehensive and robust evaluation of FOP nutrition signpost labelling published to date. It provides information on how FOP labels are used by shoppers in a retail environment; the extent to which they are accurately interpreted and the impact of the co-existence of the current range of FOP labels on comprehension. This aim of this research was to establish which FOP labelling scheme(s), or which combination of elements of schemes, best facilitate the accurate interpretation of key nutritional information by consumers such that they are enabled to make informed choices about the foods they purchase. The research addressed three key questions: (1) How well do individual signpost schemes (or elements of the schemes) enable consumers to correctly interpret levels of key nutrients?; (2) How do consumers use FOP labels in real life contexts in the retail environment and at home?; (3) How does the coexistence of a range of FOP label formats affect accurate interpretation of FOP labels?

    M Peacock, C Hodgkins, R Shepherd, M Raats (2011)Articulating health through food labelling: encouraging healthier choices, In: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: European journal of nutrition, metabolic diseases and dietetics58pp. 206-206

    Introduction: Nutrition labelling is recognized as a key tool for combating this problem by providing consumers with information which promotes healthy eating. Objectives: To investigate the extent to which food labelling systems (FLS) encourage healthier choices. Method/Design: Laddering interviews with three groups (parents; 55+; teenagers) of 20 participants were carried out in the United Kingdom. The eight FLS studied varied in complexity (e.g. numerical, graphical and colour-based information), directiveness and benchmarking (nutrient- and product-level). Results: The relationship between gross amount of information presented and actual label use is mediated by the type of benchmarking used and by what participants think its level of directiveness implies about them. Participants suggested they could decrease the cognitive workload of an ostensibly complex FLS by initially engaging only with the traffic light colours. Participants were unlikely to engage with non-directive FLS without benchmarking because these were slow to use and difficult to understand, offering objective information but no tools for use; thus suggesting an erosion self-efficacy and decreased likelihood of use in future, particularly less experienced shoppers. Semi-directive FLS with nutrient-level benchmarking gave both information and tools for meaningful engagement, increasing self-efficacy and ability to use labels effectively. A product-level logo FLS sacrificed all else for speed and ease of use, reducing decisionmaking rather than empowering the making of informed choices. Conclusions: Future FLS designs need to consider the psychological as well as practical reasons why consumers choose to engage with some FLS and ignore others. In removing any obvious link between dietary recommendations and hard facts, overly simplified labels sacrifice flexibility, utility and persuasiveness on the assumption that ease and speed are all. By contextualising real information with colourful nutrient-level benchmarking an optimal FLS may encourage shoppers to make their own informed decisions, restoring that link and empowering them to take more interest in nutrition in the future.

    Monique M. Raats, Sebastian Bartos, LADA TIMOTIJEVIC, MATTHEW PEACOCK, CHARO ELENA HODGKINS, MORRO M L TOURAY, NAOMI KLEPACZ, Indira Carr, Haris Hondo, Erik Kaunisto, Anouk Geelen, Marcus Maringer, Anne Normann, Muriel C. D. Verain (2018)Paper on quality criteria and overview of criteria applied to available data/methods - WP6 EU
    S Storcksdieck, L Fernandez Celemin, J Wills, A Larranaga, S Egger, C Hodgkins, M Raats (2014)Assessment of consumer exposure to nutrition information on food labels: penetration study across the twenty-seven EU member states (EU-27) plus Turkey, In: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society69
    S Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann, LF Celemín, A Larrañaga, S Egger, JM Wills, C Hodgkins, MM Raats (2010)Penetration of nutrition information on food labels across the EU-27 plus Turkey, In: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition64(12)pp. 1379-1385