The Effectiveness of Smart Choices, Guidance Daily Allowances, and Traffic Light Front-of-package labels on Raising Health Awareness and Helping Consumers Make Healthy Choices

Open Access
Wang, Helen Angela
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Lisa Elizabeth Bolton, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jennifer Chang Coupland, Honors Advisor
  • front-of-package labels
  • FOP labels
  • Smart Choices label
  • Guidance Daily Allowances label
  • GDA label
  • traffic light label
Front-of-package labeling is used on food products to simplify complex nutrition labels so that consumers get at-a-glance information that helps them make healthy choices. However, since the Food and Drug Administration has not decreed the usage of a uniform front-of-package label, several different front-of-package labels have been in use or are being developed to be used in the future. This causes a difference in opinion by the food industry and the government as each entity advocates certain front-of-package labels over others. There is considerate concern that the front-of-package labels endorsed by the food industry may be selling ploys used to increase sales rather than educational tools that help consumers choose the healthier product to buy. The lack of a uniform front-of-package label means that a variety of different labels are currently being used or have been used. Some front-of-package labels, such as the Guidance Daily Allowances label and the traffic light label, show nutrient content on the front of the package in hopes that consumers can use their good judgment to decide whether or not the product is healthy or not. Other front-of-package labels, such as the Smart Choices label, indicate that the food product meets specific health requirements and do not require consumers to interpret the label. With so many front-of-package labels in usage, it is debatable which label is the most effective in raising health awareness. The study I conducted for this thesis examines the effectiveness of the Smart Choices label, the Guidance Daily Amounts label, and the Traffic Light label on raising health awareness and helping consumers make the healthiest choice. It was found that the traffic light label was the most effective front-of-package label in raising health awareness, but that no front-of- package label could rival the standard nutrition label’s effectiveness in helping consumers make the healthiest choice.