How influential are health star ratings?

grocery, food., trolley, shoppingAustralian consumers have welcomed the Federal Government’s introduction of the health star rating system on food packaging, but are unlikely to let the information affect what they choose to buy, according to new research by Canstar Blue.

The consumer research group’s survey of 3000 adults found that while the majority of Australians have welcomed the ratings, with 60 per cent agreeing that it has raised their awareness, 48 per cent of respondents said they ratings have, or will impact on their purchase decisions.

“We support any system that helps consumers make better decisions, particularly when it comes to their health, so it’s disappointing to find the majority of Australians are not making these ratings a part of their purchase decision. The system seems to have been met with apathy by some,” said Megan Doyle, head of Canstar Blue.

The front-of-pack labelling system was introduced in response to Australia’s growing obesity crisis, and was designed to give consumers an easy way to compare similar processed foods in order to make healthier choices.

The statistics reveal the demographic most likely to be guided by these ratings are adults aged in their 40s (52 per cent), while the youngest age group surveyed, 18-19-20 year olds, were among the least likely (45 per cent) to let the stars influence what they buy.  Those aged in their 60s and 70s+ (45 per cent) also share a similar lack of interest.

“The trend from our results is that younger people are going to be the hardest to influence, which is not what the government would like to hear in its bid to curb Australia’s obesity crisis,” said Doyle.

The survey also found that a significant portion (95 per cent) of adults think people should take more personal responsibility for their own healthy eating habits, rather than having to rely on package labelling.

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