Abstract: The present study analyzed the nutritional knowledge of Spanish consumers and its relationship with the correct use of food labels. Consumers were asked about their nutritional knowledge and some functional foods and about their understanding of food labeling and their use of it to select healthy food. A 2-part questionnaire was employed. The 1st part concerned their knowledge of nutritional facts, including their knowledge about macronutrients and perception of certain functional foods, while the 2nd part addressed some questions regarding food labels. The results revealed no statistically significant differences in nutritional knowledge by either age or gender, but a direct relationship with educational level. The association between nutritional knowledge and the perception and understanding of food labeling showed that the nutritional label rarely influenced the food purchases of the group with low nutritional knowledge, who considered that this information was too technical. More than half of the consumers did not consider the calorie or sugar content important for selecting food. In addition, the group with low nutritional knowledge stated that they never or rarely looked at the food labels to check whether it was low-fat food that they were buying.
Practical Application: Knowing the status of the consumer's nutritional knowledge allows health campaigns to be designed; considering the influence of cultural factors and the perception of food labeling is very useful for promoting better nutritional information.