The new findings suggest that nutrition labelling – which was made compulsory in South Korea in 1995 – has had a positive impact on people with chronic diseases such as dyslipidaemia, and argues that the use of nutrition labels could help to reduce the risk of other metabolic conditions related to an unhealthy diet.
Labelling was also found to have a more positive impact on those who are less educated and young people.
Writing in Nutrition Journal, the authors present an analysis of more than 17,000 people in South Korea – finding that the awareness of nutrition labelling had positive outcomes for triglyceride (TG) and HDL cholesterol levels related to dyslipidaemia.
“In addition, the active utilisation of nutrition labelling was associated with a low risk of dyslipidaemia,” the team – led by Jong Yeob Kim from Yonsei University College of Medicine in South Korea – commented.
“Our findings suggest that high awareness and active utilization of nutrition labelling were inversely associated with risk of dyslipidaemia, especially in vulnerable populations and younger participants, as they may be more attentive to their health status than others,” they revealed.
“Based on these results, health policymakers and professionals should consider promoting nutrition labelling awareness as an alternative for managing dyslipidaemia in South Korean patients.”
Kim and colleagues analysed data from 17,687 participants from the fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which tool place between 2010 and 2014.
“We performed multiple or logistic regression analysis to examine the association between nutritional analysis and various outcome variables,” they said.
Postive results on outcomes
Approximately 70% of the respondents (11,513) were familiar with nutrition labelling, although only 20% (3,172) said they used the information to decide what food to buy, the team revealed.
“This awareness yielded mostly positive results on outcome indicators, such as triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels,” they said. “In general, individuals who used nutritional labels to make decisions regarding food purchases had a lower risk of dyslipidaemia than individuals who did not.”
They also found that nutrition labelling appeared to have a greater impact on younger people and those with lower educational levels.
"Our subgroup analysis showed other interesting findings, such as the positive impact of higher labelling awareness in younger individuals, likely due to their general concern regarding diet choices. Therefore, more public health promotion of nutrition labeling should be provided for elderly populations."
The study added: “Perhaps the introduction of the system has improved accessibility of health information for economically vulnerable populations. The impact was also greater in individuals with poor health, such as those with obesity,” Kim et al said – adding that the results of the study should motivate policymakers to consider the positive effects of nutrition labelling when establishing health policies or programmes for at risk populations.
The research concluded: "Based on our findings, health policymakers and professionals should develop effective alternatives such as promoting the use of nutrition labelling for the management of chronic diseases in South Korea."
Source: Nutrition Journal
Published online, Open Access, doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0200-y
“Is nutritional labeling associated with individual health? The effects of labeling-based awareness on dyslipidemia risk in a South Korean population”
Authors: Jong Yeob Kim, et al