UBC Undergraduate Research

Healthy food labeling on UBC campus : written report Chang, Hau-wei; Gregory, Heather; Haghnegahdar, Ghazal; Kiu, Lydia; Ko, Emily; Wong, Tracy


In Canada, the economic burden of poor dietary habits is estimated at $6.3 billion annually1. At the University of British Columbia (UBC), nutrition labeling has been identified as a key action area to improve student dietary habits and health (L. McGowan, oral communication, 2014). Excessive consumption of total fat, added sugar, sodium and calories place individuals at a higher risk for obesity2, hypertension3, type 2 diabetes4 and heart disease5. Due to a high level of interest from students, it is an appropriate time to implement a user-friendly food labeling system to help students to choose healthier food options. The goal of our proposed UBC Healthy Food Labels (HFL) is to decrease the prevalence of hypertension and obesity, as well as the risks for type 2 diabetes and heart disease in UBC students over the next four years. To decrease the consumption of foods high in total fat, added sugar, sodium, and calories among UBC students dining on campus, we propose modeling the UBC HFL after the United Kingdom (UK) Traffic Light Signpost Labeling System (TLSLS), an efficient, user-friendly, consumer-preferred method of communicating nutrition information6. Our proposed criteria for the UBC HFL are tailored to fit the UBC student population in the context of Canadian nutrition guidelines. By September 2014, we hope the community partners will approve this labeling system and use it to build upon the existing “Rez Allergen Checklist” labels, which identify common food allergens and/or intolerances. By addressing qualities that affect the speed and extent that UBC HFL will successfully spread throughout the UBC campus, we want to see at least 50% of students using the UBC HFL to decrease their total fat, added sugar, sodium and caloric intake by the end of April 2016. While a process evaluation is used throughout the development of the project, an impact evaluation will be used to determine community partners’ approval of the proposed UBC HFL using a Likert scale and the UBC HFL’s effect on promoting healthy eating among UBC students using a campus-wide survey and review of food sale patterns. Overall, we are confident that by using TLSLS as a model for the UBC HFL we can reach our goal. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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