Food product health warnings have been proposed as a potential obesity prevention strategy. This study examined the effects of text-only and text-and-graphic, negatively and positively framed health warnings on dietary choice behavior. In a 2 × 5 mixed experimental design, 96 participants completed a dietary self-control task. After providing health and taste ratings of snack foods, participants completed a baseline measure of dietary self-control, operationalized as participants' frequency of choosing healthy but not tasty items and rejecting unhealthy yet tasty items to consume at the end of the experiment. Participants were then randomly assigned to one of five health warning groups and presented with 10 health warnings of a given form: text-based, negative framing; graphic, negative framing; text, positive framing; graphic, positive framing; or a no warning control. Participants then completed a second dietary decision making session to determine whether health warnings influenced dietary self-control. Linear mixed effects modeling revealed a significant interaction between health warning group and decision stage (pre- and post-health warning presentation) on dietary self-control. Negatively framed graphic health warnings promoted greater dietary self-control than other health warnings. Negatively framed text health warnings and positively framed graphic health warnings promoted greater dietary self-control than positively framed text health warnings and control images, which did not increase dietary self-control. Overall, HWs primed healthier dietary decision making behavior, with negatively framed graphic HWs being most effective. Health warnings have potential to become an important element of obesity prevention.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2018
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