Color-coded labels, healthier food

Jan. 7, 2014, Harvard Gazette

Using color-coded labels to mark healthier foods and then displaying them more prominently appears to have prompted customers to make more healthful long-term dining choices in their large hospital cafeteria, according to a report from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), the MGH research team noted that the previously reported changes have continued up to two years after the labeling intervention was introduced.

“Our current results show that the significant changes in the purchase patterns of both hospital employees and all customers resulting from the labels and the choice architecture program did not fade away as cafeteria patrons became used to them,” says Anne Thorndike of the MGH Division of General Medicine, who led the study. ”This is good evidence that these changes in healthy choices persist over time.” Continue reading