Use of nutritional information: analysing clusters of consumers who intend to eat healthily

Vincent J. van Buul*, Catherine A. W. Bolman, Fred J. P. H. Brouns, Lilian Lechner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Consumers intending to eat healthily should consult available information on the energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat content of foods. Some consumers, however, do this more than others do. The objective of this research was to identify distinct subgroups within the group of consumers who intend to eat healthily, segmented according to the timing and frequency of their use of information about energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat. Furthermore, we analysed whether consulting this information actually led to healthier food choices. Data on use of specific nutritional information in a computerised task in which participants made multiple dichotomous food choices (e.g. high-fat v. low-fat cheese) were recorded from 240 participants using process tracing software. Participants could view nutritional information by hovering the mouse over specific areas of the screen. We found three clusters of participants based on use of information about energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat: low, medium and high information users. There was a between-clusters difference in how often the healthy option was chosen (88 center dot 95 % with high information v. 67 center dot 17 % with low information usage). Presence in the medium and high information clusters was partially predicted by perceived self-efficacy in making healthy choices. It appears that some consumers are very confident of their ability to make healthy choices, which is a reason for making less use of nutritional information prior to making food choices and may result in unhealthy choices. Our findings improve understanding of the conditions needed to develop effective interventions targeted at health-conscious consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutritional Science
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019


  • Food choice
  • MouselabWEB
  • Process tracing
  • Health action process approach
  • Nutrition information

Cite this