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Christine Parker

The University of Melbourne

This article examines the potential for new front‐of‐pack (FOP) nutrition labeling initiatives to nudge consumers toward healthier food choices. The libertarian‐paternalist approach to policy known as nudge initially developed by Thaler and Sunstein is discussed, with its emphasis on designing spaces (including the space of the food label) to shape the behavior of individuals while not restricting consumer choice or imposing restrictions or penalties on producers. In the context of concerns over diet‐related chronic diseases and obesity, new FOP interpretive nutrition labels have been proposed or implemented in an attempt to shift consumer dietary choices, including the Multiple Traffic Light labeling system in the United Kingdom and the Health Star Rating system in Australia. We identify some of the characteristics, the underlying nutritional philosophies, and the limitations of these FOP labeling schemes. We suggest that the potential of these schemes is compromised by the coexistence on the food label of many other forms of nutrition information and food marketing. Some alternative ways of labeling and communicating the nutritional quality of foods are also discussed.

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