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    The information included on food packages has a crucial role in influencing consumer product associations and purchase decisions. In particular, visual and textual cues on processed and ultra-processed products can convey health-related associations that influence consumer healthiness perception and purchase decisions. In this context, the present work aimed to explore the use of health-related cues on the packages of processed and ultra-processed products sold in Uruguay to provide insights for policy making. A total of 3813 products from thirty-four different food categories found in four of the most important supermarket chains in Uruguay were surveyed. The textual and visual information included on the packages as well as the nutritional composition of the products were analysed. Results showed that 67 % of the products included at least one health-related cue. Pictures of culinary ingredients, natural and minimally processed foods were the most frequent health-related cue, followed by references to naturalness and claims related to critical nutrients. The prevalence of health-related cues largely differed across product categories, ranging from 100 to 17 %. The relationship between the presence of health-related cues on the packages and the excessive content of nutrients associated with non-communicable diseases was assessed using a gradient boosting model, which showed limited predictive ability. This suggests that the inclusion of health-related cues on food packages was not strongly related to the nutritional composition of products and therefore cannot be regarded as a healthiness indicator. These results stress the need to develop stricter labelling regulations to protect consumers from misleading information.


    Florencia Alcaire, Leticia Vidal, Leandro Machín, Lucía Antúnez, Ana Giménez, María Rosa Curutchet, Gastón Ares. Health-related cues on the packages of processed and ultra-processed products: prevalence and policy implications. The British journal of nutrition. 2023 Jul 14;130(1):174-184

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    PMID: 36205217

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