Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mehta, Sudha Wadhwa

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Food--Packaging; Nutrition


The purpose of this study was to determine if the consumers could use the nutrition information on the food product labels. The nutrition knowledge of the consumers and their ability to interpret nutrition labels was assessed by a questionnaire. The subjects were 116 homemakers in DeKalb County, Illinois. Fifty-five subjects were members of cooperative extension education groups and 61 subjects were members of women's church groups. The average age of the subjects was 45 years. The majority of the subjects had a family size of four members and a yearly family income sufficient to maintain a moderate standard of living. Most of the subjects had some college education but their nutrition education was obtained in high school. The subjects' nutrition knowledge was tested by asking questions about the nutrient content of various natural and fortified foods. The total number of the correct responses to the questions was used as the subject's nutrition knowledge scores. The nutrition knowledge mean score for all the subjects was 32.4 for the 47 questions. The subjects' mean score indicates that they had an adequate knowledge of nutrition; however, the nutrition knowledge of the subjects was not reflected in their food practices. The subjects had a good knowledge of the amounts of the foods that should be eaten, each day according to the Basic Four Food Groups. But, only 37.1 per cent of the subjects were aware of the NAS-NRC Recommended Dietary Allowances and only one subject selected the correct recommended amount for each of the eight nutrients. More than 50 per cent of the subjects could correctly interpret the nutrition information on food product labels. The majority of the subjects found nutrition labels easy to understand and expressed that they would select food products with nutrition labels even if the labeled food products were more expensive. In comparing the nutrition knowledge of the subjects, no difference was found among the subjects of various age groups, income levels, educational levels, and levels of nutritional education. Having a family member on a modified diet did not affect the subjects' nutrition knowledge. The age of the subjects was a factor in their ability to interpret nutrition labels. The youngest subjects could interpret the nutrition labels more correctly than the subjects over 60 years of age. Although the subjects' ability to interpret nutrition labels was independent of their nutrition knowledge score and educational level, the subjects who had obtained their nutrition education in college could interpret nutrition labels more accurately than the subjects who obtained their nutrition education in high school. In comparing the extension and church groups it was found that the church group had a significantly higher nutrition knowledge score. Although, the extension group was more aware of the Recommended Dietary Allowances, there was no significant difference in the ability of the two groups to select the recommended amount of each nutrient. Both groups had a good knowledge of the Basic Four Food Groups. Both groups could interpret nutrition labels equally well. The results of this study indicated that an average homemaker is aware of the need for good nutrition and is willing to pay more to obtain such information. However, to make the best use of nutrition labeling there is need for a nationwide educational program to acquaint the consumer with the nutrition labeling format


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


viii, 113 pages




Northern Illinois University

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