Background color of nutritional labels influences perception of how healthy the product is

Note: analysis based on my Behavioral Orchestration and Analysis framework explained here.


Health Commun. 2013;28(8):814-21. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2012.725270. Epub 2013 Feb 27. Does green mean healthy? Nutrition label color affects perceptions of healthfulness. Schuldt JP. Department of Communication , Cornell University.


  • Finding out whether the background color of nutrional labels influences the degree to which consumers perceive a food as healthy or not

Changes implemented

Choice Architecture

Contextual persuasion and copy elements
  • Identical nutritional labels with identical info printed on green or red background. Another use of the halo effect.
  • Identical calorie counts printed in green or red.


  • Consumers do change their perception.


Very simple and useful study demonstrating why classic elements (such as red/green colors, etc.) bearing a halo effect should be examined very closely in any situation.They will almost always have a material effect on choices.

Full abstract:

The food industry has recently implemented numerous front-of-package nutrition labels to readily convey key aspects a food product’s nutritional profile to consumers (e.g., calories and fat content). Although seemingly well-intentioned, such labels might lead consumers to perceive relatively poor nutrition foods in a healthier light. The present research explores whether one underresearched aspect of nutrition labels-namely, their color-might influence perceptions of a product’s healthfulness. In Study 1, participants perceived a candy bar as healthier when it bore a green rather than a red calorie label, despite the fact that the labels conveyed the same calorie content. Study 2 examined the perceived healthfulness of a candy bar bearing a green versus white calorie label and assessed individual differences in the importance of healthy eating. Overall, results suggest that green labels increase perceived healthfulness, especially among consumers who place high importance on healthy eating. Discussion focuses on implications for health-related judgment and nutrition labeling.