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Food Labeling Use by Consumers in Arab countries: A Scoping Review

Abstract

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) related to inadequate nutrition are prevalent in economically transitioning countries such as the Arab region. The westernized diet is recognized as a leading trend and the UN General Assembly is focused on the prevention and control of NCD. Due to the rapid transitions in diet and physical inactivity occurring in the Arab region, revising public health dietary strategies, guidelines, and policies to reduce the burden of NCD is needed. This article presents existing literature on food label use in the Arab region as a response to the problem. The primary objective was to locate, review, and summarize peer-reviewed studies on how and why consumers use food labels in Arab countries. An integrative review of the related literature was conducted with no delimiting time frames. The authors applied search strategies to eight academic databases which produced 32 peer-reviewed articles. Seventeen were removed due to inconsistent scope and focus. Awareness of and nutrition knowledge about food labeling emerged as a primary theme. Education, household income, and age were secondary themes and predictor variables. Nutrition food labels as a population-based strategy can influence individual behavior change and potentially improve population health. These outcomes depend on the consumer’s ability to understand nutrition labels and properly apply information. Themed recommendations included standardization of food labeling policies, consumer education on food labeling, and public health efforts to develop a detailed understanding of regional populations prior to health promotion strategy development. Enabling informed food selection and reinforcing healthy dietary intake can help prevent NCD and support individual and population health.

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Correspondence to Basil H. Aboul-Enein.

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Benajiba, N., Mahrous, L., Bernstein, J. et al. Food Labeling Use by Consumers in Arab countries: A Scoping Review. J Community Health 45, 661–674 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-019-00750-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-019-00750-6

Keywords

  • Food label use
  • Arab consumer
  • Arab countries
  • Public health nutrition
  • Nutrition education