Get access

Methodological quality of front-of-pack labeling studies: a review plus identification of research challenges

Authors

  • Ellis L Vyth,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ingrid HM Steenhuis,

    1. Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hella E Brandt,

    1. Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Annet JC Roodenburg,

    1. Unilever Research and Development, Vlaardingen, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Johannes Brug,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jacob C Seidell

    1. Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author

EL Vyth, Department of Health Sciences, VU University, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail: ellis.vyth@falw.vu.nl. Phone: +31-20-5986865. Fax: +31-20-5987123.

Abstract

This review evaluates the methodological quality of current front-of-pack labeling research and discusses future research challenges. Peer-reviewed articles were identified using a computerized search of the databases PubMed and Web of Science (ISI) from 1990 to February 2011; reference lists from key published articles were used as well. The quality of the 31 included studies was assessed. The results showed that the methodological quality of published front-of-pack labeling research is generally low to mediocre; objective observational data-based consumer studies were of higher quality than consumer studies relying on self-reports. Experimental studies that included a control group were lacking. The review further revealed a lack of a validated methodology to measure the use of front-of-pack labels and the effects of these labels in real-life settings. In conclusion, few methodologically sound front-of-pack labeling studies are presently available. The highest methodological quality and the greatest public health relevance are achieved by measuring the health effects of front-of-pack labels using biomarkers in a longitudinal, randomized, controlled design in a real-life setting.

Ancillary