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An unhealthy attitude? New insight into the modest effects of the NLEA

Mark Patterson (), Saurabh Bhargava () and George Loewenstein ()

Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, 2017, vol. 1, issue 1, 15-26

Abstract: We investigate the impact of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act on attitudes and behaviors, using newly available survey data from several thousand consumers. Consistent with prior literature, we find that the introduction of the standardized labels only modestly affected purchasing behavior. However, we find that the limited success of the policy is not attributable to inattention to labels, or to the inability of consumers to act in accordance with their attitudes, but rather to the fact that the labels did not meaningfully shift consumer attitudes in favor of healthy eating. We interpret the failure of the labels to shift consumer attitudes as motivating the need for more psychologically informed labels or alternative policies that address the fundamental causes of poor diets.

Keywords: health policy; obesity; nutrition; information disclosure; health attitudes (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 I18 K20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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