A randomized controlled trial to test the effects of displaying the Nutri-Score in food advertising on consumer perceptions and intentions to purchase and consume


  • Courbet Didier
  • Jacquemier Laure
  • Hercberg Serge
  • Touvier Mathilde
  • Sarda Barthélémy
  • Kesse-Guyot Emmanuelle
  • Galan Pilar
  • Buttafoghi Nicolas
  • Julia Chantal


  • Nutri-score
  • Nutrition labelling
  • Advertising messages
  • Perceived quality product
  • Public health

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Some research shows that advertising for high-fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS) products is contributing to a shift in consumer preferences toward products of poor nutritional quality, leading to unhealthy nutritional intakes that increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. A strategy of displaying simple and understandable nutritional information (like the front-of-pack nutrition label Nutri-Score) in food messages could be an aid to help guide consumers’ choice towards healthier products. Methods A randomized controlled experiment was conducted on 27,085 participants randomly assigned to two experimental conditions or a control condition. In both experimental conditions (independent variable: advertising messages with vs. without the Nutri-Score), participants were exposed to advertisements for diversified food products with contrasting nutritional quality and belonging to nine different food categories. Participants were then asked questions about their perception, affective evaluation, and intentions to purchase and consume the products. In the control condition, they were not exposed to the advertisements. Results Overall, interaction effects between the two variables (1) the messages with vs. without the Nutri-Score and (2) the nutritional quality of products, were significant for all dependent variables, with effect sizes between large and medium. Overall, the better the products’ nutritional quality, the more positive their perceptions, affective evaluations, and intentions to buy and consume them. When the Nutri-score was displayed in advertising messages (vs. when it was not), perceptions, affective evaluation, and behavioral intentions: (1) became more positive for products of good nutritional quality (Nutri-score A and B), (2) became more negative for products of poor nutritional quality (Nutri-score D and E), (3) changed little or not at all for products of intermediate nutritional quality (Nutri-Score C). Conclusions This research is the first in the literature to demonstrate that displaying the Nutri-Score in advertising messages assists consumers in directing their choices towards healthier foods. Regulations mandating the display of the Nutri-Score in food advertising could be an effective public health measure.

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