Consumers' attitudes regarding the use of the salt information on food labels
Hypertension (HT) is globally one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), also regarded as a non-communicable disease. Various factors contribute to CVDs, and of interest for this study, include socio-demographic (urbanisation, rurality, income, education and ageing), behaviour (nutrition transition towards a Westernised diet) and metabolic (hypertension) risk factors. One of the leading causes of HT is the excess intake of salt from discretionary (salt added when cooking and at the table) and various non-discretionary sources. The aim of this study was to determine rural consumers' attitudes regarding the salt information on food labels. Attitudes were investigated incorporating the tri-component model of attitudes, namely the cognitive, affective, and conative components, and interpreted applying the socio-cognitive approach (SCA) to health behaviour. In this exploratory, quantitative study, data were collected from 268 females (?18 years; ? Grade 5 level of education) residing in a rural setting in the Northern Cape Province (NCP), South Africa, applying interviewer-administered questionnaires. The questionnaire was examined for validity and reliability. Data analysis included descriptive statistics (percentages and means) and inferential statistics (factor and cluster analysis, T-tests, ANOVA's and 2-way frequency tables). Results showed that objective knowledge regarding salt intake, salt content of food, salt/sodium relationship, and knowledge of salt information on food labels were low to average, but high for 'Cardiovascular diseases'. Subjective knowledge of food labels was also high. Respondents' beliefs and misconceptions about salt possibly contributed to the high intake of salt. They also had negative affective feelings regarding the liking and trust of food labels, and although salt intake was a concern for respondents, the importance to lower intake was not a priority. Respondents adopted a Westernised diet, and sources of salt intake were from discretionary and non-discretionary sources, with the latter mainly from bread and stock- and soup powders. They also indicated to purchase take-away foods. Respondents understood the Front-of-package (FOP) information (in this study the Salt Watch and Heart symbols), presented in traffic light colours well. Although some positive results were found, results in general, examining the cognitive-, affective- and conative components of attitudes regarding food labels, indicated that rural consumers had negative attitudes regarding the salt information on food labels. The SCA can provide understanding and insight into consumers' health behaviour, particularly into how dietary behaviour (intake of salt) influences their health (HT). Consumers' knowledge about their health (HT) is a precondition for changing related behaviour, which is in this case objective knowledge about salt intake, sources of salt, and ultimately the salt information on food labels.
- Health Sciences