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Assessing public perception and awareness of UK mandatory calorie labelling in the out‐of‐home sector: Using Twitter and Google trends data

Polden, M, Robinson, E and Jones, A (2023) Assessing public perception and awareness of UK mandatory calorie labelling in the out‐of‐home sector: Using Twitter and Google trends data. Obesity Science and Practice. ISSN 2055-2238

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.674 (published)


Objectives: In 2021 the UK government announced a new obesity policy requiring large out-of-home food outlets to provide mandatory in-store calorie labelling on food and drink items. Public acceptability and engagement with obesity policies could influence the level of impact on wider public health particularly with population-level policies such as calorie labelling. This study aimed to examine public responses and awareness of the policy using social media (Twitter) comments and Google trends data.
Methods: This study examined responses to social media posts on Twitter (tweets) from the UK Department of Health and Social Care detailing the policy, implementation date and post-implementation information about the policy’s enforcement. The sentiments of the tweets were coded and the number of likes and replies extracted. This study utilised google trends to examine public awareness of the policy by extracting weekly relative search volume for relevant phrases such as ‘calorie labelling’.
Results: From the 276 replies/quote-tweet extracted, the majority expressed a negative sentiment towards the policy (N=197/ 71.4%). There were fewer tweets expressing a positive sentiment (N=25 / 8.7%) and a neutral/no sentiment (N=54 / 19.6%). There was no difference in the number of ‘likes’ or retweets between tweets expressing positive or negative sentiments. Five themes were identified expressing negative sentiments (most common being negative impacts on eating disorders). Google trends data revealed increased searches for 'calorie labels/labelling' during the week of the policy enforcement compared to previous weeks in the last 5 years but no significant differences in searches for specific menu calorie labelling.
Conclusions: This analysis revealed negative sentiment towards and increased searching of calorie labelling information during the announcement and implementation of the 2021 mandatory calorie labelling policy in England. A greater understanding of public responses to calorie labelling policies may help tailor future policies and public communication strategies.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2023 09:26
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 08:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1002/osp4.674
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19391
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