EUFIC Portion Size Study: Consumer research on how consumers interpret and use portion information on food and drink packaging
Portion information often appears on food and drink labels but little is known about how consumers interpret and use this information. To find out EUFIC has collaborated with Dr Monique Raats to carry out an online survey of 13,117 consumers in 6 EU countries (Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden).
In a climate of overweight and obesity, how much consumers eat is just as important as what they eat. This is the most comprehensive study of consumers use of portion information in Europe. It provides evidence that when portion information is present on pack in addition to per 100g/100ml information, consumers can apply it to help them to use nutrition information correctly. Whilst there is an opportunity to educate consumers on what constitutes a portion and how they are set, the challenge remains to encourage consumers to look for and use this information.
- About half of respondents considered portion size relevant to them and the majority of these considered it to mean the amount they should eat in one sitting
- For the majority of products respondents agreed that given portion sizes were realistic
- In general portion information did indeed make nutritional information more useful to respondents
- Most consumers surveyed did not know how portion sizes were set or who set them
- As pack size increased respondents’ estimates of the number of portions inside and the actual number of portions given by the manufacturers became more consistent
For more detail of these initial results, please see the EUFIC webinar available on the EUFIC website.
I previously worked at the Institute of Food Research, Health Education Authority and University of Oxford. My expertise is in the area of public health and behavioural nutrition research, gained on a variety of projects. My research is wide ranging both in terms of topics covered (e.g. food choice, policy development, food safety) and methodologies used (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, stakeholder consultation). I have also been involved in the evaluation of health promotion programmes and developing tools for use in nutrition education.
Since my arrival in 2000, I have played an instrumental role in the success of the University of Surrey’s Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, securing over £5.4M of research funding, of which over £3.3M as PI. With a start-up investment of £250K in 2000, the centre has brought over £7.1M into the University.
To date I have published over 125 refereed papers, numerous non-refereed publications including 20 book chapters and have edited two booksand edited two books ("The Psychology of Food Choice" (2006) and "Food for the Ag(e)ing Population" (1st edition 2009; 2nd edition 2016).
I am one of the founding members, member of the Board of Directors (2001-2006) and was secretary (2004-2006) of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The society was set up to combine interests in diet and physical activity; and to stimulate, promote and advocate innovative research and policy in the area. The society now plays an important role in fostering excellence in research in this field through its annual meetings and journal called the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
I started my career with GSK as a development chemist and then moved to Superdrug Stores PLC as Head of Technical Services. During my 14 years in industry, I gained extensive experience of managing technical and research projects within both branded and retail environments. In 2003, I joined the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre (FCBH) at the University of Surrey, a multidisciplinary research centre which brings together skills and expertise in order to address research questions on food related policy, consumer behaviour and public health. I have played an instrumental role in the success of the Research Centre, working on a wide range of collaborative, multidisciplinary UK and EU funded research projects.
I have a keen interest in the communication of health-related information on foods to consumers i.e. nutrition labelling and health claims, this being the focus of my PhD thesis. In addition, I have expertise in exploring the design and delivery of interventions and m-health solutions to improve quality of life and to promote self-management of illness and/or healthier lifestyles.
Policy relevance and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a cross-cutting theme across my research, and my work is aimed at both understanding the processes of policy making and contributing high quality underpinning research evidence on which to base future policies.
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