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Shadai Martin, PhD, RDN
Leia Zagone, MS
Stephanie Rogus PhD, RDN


We assessed nutrition label literacy and whether the implementation of traffic light labeling (TLL) would facilitate participants’ perceptions about the usefulness of TLL in making healthier food choices at a university’s mobile food pantry.


TLL was implemented during 3 mobile food pantry distribution sessions on a university campus in the southwestern United States during spring of 2020. College students, staff, and community members utilizing the mobile food pantry selected food items based on the TLL perceptions after receiving nutrition education. We used items from validated surveys, demographic items, and TLL perception questions to collect our data from participants (N = 112).


We found statistically significant associations between nutrition label literacy and choosing healthier food items based on TLL perceptions; participants who had lower nutrition label literacy scores perceived the TLL to be the most helpful in selecting healthier food items (p = .02). Statistically significant association also was noted between race/ethnicity and nutrition label literacy (p = .004) and overweight participants perceiving the TLL method to be restrictive when choosing food items(p = .02).


Assessing nutrition label literacy and whether the implementation of the TLL would facilitate participants perceptions about the usefulness of the TLL in making healthier food choices identifies opportunities to improve nutrition label literacy among individuals who utilize mobile food pantries; in addition, it highlights the importance of nutrition label literacy in making informed and/or healthy food choices.

Source: Health Behavior and Policy Review, Volume 9, Number 1, January 2022, pp. 660-669(10)
Publisher: Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd.