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EU project investigates health claims on food products

[Date: 2012-09-27]

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Our brains are flooded with information about what we should eat, what we should not eat and what we need to do to get healthy. Food labels play a key role in getting this information to us. But how do we interpret this information, and how does it impact our buying and consumption behaviour?

The CLYMBOL ('Role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour') project is investigating consumer understanding and behaviour with respect to health information. Funded under the 'Food, agriculture and fisheries, and biotechnology' Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 2.9 million, CLYMBOL will develop guidelines to assess the effects of health information on food labels.

Food packages contain health claims that suggest there is a link between the contents, or one of their constituents, and health. A case in point is how vitamin A keeps the immune system in tip-top shape. Food products get health symbols because they meet specific nutrient requirements and are considered to be the healthiest option within a product category.

'Health claims and symbols are aids to help consumers identify foods that are healthier options, but we know little on how they impact consumer behaviour,' said Professor Klaus G. Grunert of Aarhus Universitet in Denmark, the scientific advisor within CLYMBOL.

Various factors affect how consumers react to products displaying health information, including the health claims themselves and familiarity with the product. But in order to get data on the effects of health information on buying and consumption patterns, the CLYMBOL partners will devise a set of methodologies to measure the role of health claims and symbols in consumer behaviour. They will evaluate latest data from cognitive and behavioural studies, such as pan-European surveys, supermarket-based experiments and population data analysis.

For instance, the researchers will measure consumers' eye movements and reaction times, and examine subconscious behaviour. They will then link the data to actual purchases. They will also examine the differences between consumers and EU Member States.

Coordinated by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) in Belgium, the CLYMBOL consortium comprises experts from Denmark, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

For more information, please visit:

European Food Information Council (EUFIC):
http://www.eufic.org/

CLYMBOL project factsheet:
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/105145_en.html

Related stories: 34314

Category: Projects
Data Source Provider: European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
Document Reference: Based on information from the European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Food; Life Sciences; Policies; Scientific Research

RCN: 35068