Dimensional analysis of schoolchildren's food label comprehension: a pilot study


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    That is, the successful advertising campaigns run by Coke which always show people in groups enjoying themselves.

  • That is, anti-smoking adverts run by the government – also on pack straps such as ‘Smoking kills’.

  • The post-pilot phase comprises surveying 2000 S1 and S5 pupils across seven secondary schools in the Scottish Borders, which represents 78% of all such schools. S1 denotes ‘Secondary 1’; S5 denotes ‘Secondary 5’, respectively, the first and fifth years of secondary school in Scotland.

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    QMUC Research Degrees Academic Regulations.

  • N1, N2 and N4 are the names given to different elements of the numerical dimension. Pupils could answer questions by referral to various items of data on the food label. N1 = referral to one piece of numerical data on the label, N2 = referral to, and manipulation of two pieces of numerical data, N4 = referral to, and manipulation of four pieces of numerical data.

  • The scale for this group of questions was 1 = always, 2 = often, 3 = occasionally, 4 = rarely, 5 = never and 6 = I don’t do (the activity).

Stephen A. Stuart, School of Business and Enterprise, Queen Margaret University College, Clerwood Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 8TS, UK. E-mail: sstuart@qmuc.ac.uk


This article discusses some weaknesses in current research into young consumers’ abilities to comprehend and successfully manipulate food label information and describes the development of a research project through to an analysis of the pilot phase. The research programme identifies a method  of  measuring  the  effectiveness  of  state  education in enabling the next generation of consumers to make informed food choices through the provision of appropriate tools and skills, both of which are necessary to fully understand a label's informational elements within a marketing context. The article also discusses the appropriateness of a quantitative questionnaire to measure the abilities and skills of individuals through the identification of some key comprehension dimensions required by modern food consumers. Finally, the article questions the appropriateness of the context in which information is provided to food consumers. Through a continuing programme of research, it is envisaged that a more appropriate context for certain elements important in the choice of a diet that is relevant to an individual's lifestyle may be proposed.