Which Drink has More Calories? Effects of the Reference Amount on Food

Kirstin Dolick, Purdue University


Determining which of two beverages contain less calories can be difficult as the specified nutrients on nutrition labels of different products do not refer to the same reference amount but often refer to different servings, portions, and container sizes. Participants, n = 188, were asked to complete pair-comparison tasks by choosing between products based on reported nutritional content. Descriptive models attempt to capture participant strategy and provide insight into choice behavior. The majority of participants in the main study, 72.13%, could be described as correctly considering the effect of the serving size when making choices. However, 57.04% of the choices and 26.23% of the individuals can be described as using a less precise strategy, the absolute numbers, to make choices. Findings describe consumer behavior related to FDA nutrition labeling rules.




Reimer, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Marketing|Communication|Cognitive psychology

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