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New study to change the face of Australian food

Media release: 
13/08/2015

Aussie families can have their say in making grocery shopping easier and more nutritious by joining a study to help identify the food labels that best take the guess work out of a healthy diet.

Study Director Dr Nicole Li from The George Institute for Global Health said the 5-week trial would examine whether better labels helped people make the best choices at the supermarket.

“Poor diet accounts for about one fifth of all disease in Australia and is the main cause of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity,” Dr Li said.  

“It’s also the reason why so many Australians suffer from obesity and diseases like heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems.

“Unhealthy processed and fast foods are a big problem, but growth in the number of time-poor consumers means they are often the easy alternative.

“The search for ways to improve food choices is central to the prevention effort.”

Dr Li said the Food Label Trial used a smartphone app to scan barcodes and showed participants one of five different types of nutrition labels for a month.

“It also lets people send in information about what they buy so that researchers can see which type of label results in the healthiest food choices,” she said.

“We need more volunteers to help us help families become healthier.

“We’re looking for 2,500 people for this trial – the number that will give us clear answers about which label type works best.”

Dr Li said shopping participants would also receive a bonus for their efforts - 2 x $50 online shopping vouchers to go towards their grocery bills upon study completion.

“Food labelling that provides consumers with at-a-glance insight into the healthiness of different products is believed to have enormous potential,” she said.

“Australia has opted for Health Stars which are starting to appear on some food packaging and this trial will also look at whether this was the best choice.”

The Food Label Trial is funded by the National Health and Medical Council of Australia.

To participate, you must be over 18 years old, be the main shopper for your household and shop in a supermarket at least once a week, have a smartphone and be willing to engage for a five-week period.  Everyone is welcome!

If you are interested in finding out more just go to the app store, search for ‘Label Trial’, download the app, and follow the instructions.  You can drop out any time if it isn’t for you.

You can also visit the Food Label Trial webpage or contact foodlabeltrial@georgeinstitute.org.au to request further information.