Can health claims and symbols lead to healthier eating habits?

Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences participates in a new EU-funded project that aims to investigate how consumers interpret food labels, and how it affects their shopping and consumer behaviour.

2012.10.03 | Tine Bagger Christiansen

A new four-year research project receives DKK 22 million to conduct research into new knowledge about consumer understanding and behaviour in relation to health information. Klaus G. Grunert from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences participates as scientific advisor in the project which will analyse the effect of health claims and symbols.

? Health claims and symbols are aids to help consumers identify foods that are healthier options, but we know little about how they impact consumer behaviour, says Professor Klaus G. Grunert, partner in and scientific advisor to the CLYMBOL project.

Method
The CLYMBOL team will measure the effect of health claims and symbols on consumer behaviour. The methods are based on the latest knowledge about cognitive and behavioural research and include Pan-European surveys, various supermarket experiments and population data analyses. By measuring consumer eye movements and response times, the researchers will, e.g., be able to observe and analyse effects of the food labels, of which consumers themselves are unaware.

CLYMBOL will also develop guidelines for health claims, taking into account consumer differences in the EU member countries.

Consortium
The CLYMBOL consortium brings together 14 partners from nine countries, all with expertise within different fields: Cognitive consumer psychology, economics, marketing, nutrition and public health. Participating partners:

  • Aarhus University (Denmark) – scientific advisor
  • Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragon, CITA (Spain)
  • Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary)
  • European Food Information Council (Belgium) – coordinator
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Globus SB-Warenhaus Holding GmbH & Co KG (Germany)
  • Saarland University (Germany)
  • Schuttelaar & Partners NV (the Netherlands)
  • The Swedish National Food Agency – Sweden)
  • University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • University of Oxford (UK)
  • University of Surrey (UK)
  • University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
  • Wageningen University (the Netherlands)

FACTS
The health project is called CLYMBOL (Role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour). The CLYMBOL project receives research support from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) (contract no. 311.963).

Health claims are defined as: "Any claim that indicates or suggests a connection between a food product and health."

The project receives funding to the tune of DKK 22 million from the EU, of which approx. 2.5 million is earmarked for the MAPP Centre at Aarhus University.

For more information about the project (including a more detailed description of the work and biographies of key consortium partners), please contact:

Philip Springuel
Media Relations – European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
Philip.Springuel@eufic.org
+32 2506 8989

About the European Food Information Council (EUFIC):
The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet. EUFIC is supported by companies of the European food and drinks industries, and receives project funding from the European Commission.

For mere information about EUFIC, visit www.eufic.org.

Contact

Klaus G. Grunert, Professor
Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences
E-mail: klg@asb.dk
Tel.: +45 87 16 50 07
Mobile: +45 40 38 53 19
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