Nutrition labelling study uses smartphone app

Thursday, 05 November, 2015

A study on nutrition labelling using smartphones is underway in New Zealand.

The Starlight trial uses smartphone technology to deliver the study intervention (nutrition labels) to participants and to record participant information.

“New front-of-pack labels deliver simple, ‘at-a-glance’ nutrition information to buyers. Our aim is to see if these labels have an effect on the healthiness of foods bought by New Zealand shoppers,” says lead researcher Cliona Ni Mhurchu, professor of nutrition at National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at the University of Auckland.

Eligible participants download a free study-specific interactive smartphone app which guides them through all stages of the study, from registration to final data collection.

The app enables completion of study questionnaires, delivery of the allocated nutrition labels (participants scan bar codes of food products to view the nutrition labels on their smartphone screen), collection and transmission of food purchasing data, and the delivery of regular reminder messages.

“Poor diets and obesity are leading risk factors for ill-health in New Zealand,” says Professor Ni Mhurchu.

“The New Zealand Government recently announced initiatives to prevent and manage obesity in children and young people. One of these initiatives was related to food labelling,” she says. “Nutrition labels inform consumers about the composition of foods and can support healthier choices, but many people find current nutrition labels hard to understand.”

More than 1400 people have taken part since the study started in September 2014 and the Starlight team is now looking for its final 100 volunteers to complete the study.

Recruitment closes on 11 November 2015. Those interested in taking part in the study should visit the study website for more information. Volunteers can also contact researcher Dr Katya Volkova on (09) 923 4742 or by emailing

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