BMC Public Health: Information-based cues at point of choice to change selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco products: A systematic review

27 Apr 2018

Background: Reducing harmful consumption of food, alcohol, and tobacco products would prevent many cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Placing information-based cues in the environments in which we select and consume these products has the potential to contribute to changing these behaviours. Methods: In this review, information-based cues are defined as those which comprise any combination of words, symbols, numbers or pictures that convey information about a product or its use. We specifically exclude cues which are located on the products themselves. We conducted a systematic review of randomised, cluster- randomised, and non-randomised controlled trials to assess the impact of such cues on selection and consumption. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 12 targeted food (most commonly fruit and vegetables), one targeted alcohol sales, and none targeted tobacco products. Results: Ten studies reported statistically significant effects on some or all of the targeted products, although studies were insufficiently homogenous to justify meta-analysis. Existing evidence suggests information-based cues can influence selection and consumption of food and alcohol products, although significant uncertainty remains. Conclusions: The current evidence base is limited both in quality and quantity, with relatively few, heterogeneous studies at unclear or high risk of bias. Additional, more rigorously conducted studies are warranted to better estimate the potential for these interventions to change selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco products. Trial registration: PROSPERO. 2016;CRD42016051884. Key words: Food, alcohol, information-based cues, point of choice, selection, consumption