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Signs of Warning: Do Health Warning Messages on Sweets Affect the Neural Prefrontal Cortex Activity?

Marketing of Agricultural and Food Products, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, University of Göttingen, Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
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Nutrients 2020, 12(12), 3903; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123903
Received: 9 November 2020 / Revised: 13 December 2020 / Accepted: 18 December 2020 / Published: 21 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Nutrition and Public Health)
In the global attempt to combat rising obesity rates, the introduction of health warning messages on food products is discussed as one possible approach. However, the perception of graphical health warning messages in the food context and the possible impact that they may have, in particular at the neuronal level, have hardly been studied. Therefore, the aim of this explorative study was to examine consumers’ reactions (measured as neuronal activity and subjective reporting) of two different types of graphical health warning messages on sweets compared to sweets without warning messages. One type used the red road traffic stop sign as graphical information (“Stop”), while the other one used shocking pictures (“Shock”), an approach similar to the images on cigarette packages. The neural response of 78 participants was examined with the neuroimaging technique functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Different hemodynamic responses in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the frontopolar cortex (FOC), and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) were observed, regions which are associated with reward evaluation, social behavior consequences, and self-control. Further, the health warning messages were actively and emotionally remembered by the participants. These findings point to an interesting health information strategy, which should be explored and discussed further. View Full-Text
Keywords: fNIRS; graphical health warnings; health warning messages; prefrontal cortex; shocking images; warning label fNIRS; graphical health warnings; health warning messages; prefrontal cortex; shocking images; warning label
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mehlhose, C.; Risius, A. Signs of Warning: Do Health Warning Messages on Sweets Affect the Neural Prefrontal Cortex Activity? Nutrients 2020, 12, 3903. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123903

AMA Style

Mehlhose C, Risius A. Signs of Warning: Do Health Warning Messages on Sweets Affect the Neural Prefrontal Cortex Activity? Nutrients. 2020; 12(12):3903. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123903

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mehlhose, Clara, and Antje Risius. 2020. "Signs of Warning: Do Health Warning Messages on Sweets Affect the Neural Prefrontal Cortex Activity?" Nutrients 12, no. 12: 3903. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123903

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