Overweight poses serious implications not only for the individual, but also for the health care system. One third of total health care expenditures are devoted to illnesses related to overweight. Those most often affected include the elderly, poor, and individuals with poor education.
On the European level it is currently debated how a health conscious nutrition can be promoted by means of nutrition labelling. The European Commission favours a model in which the recommended daily values for each dietary component would be indicated as a percentage without the use of a colour-coded classification system. By contrast, consumer and health care organisations prefer a traffic light model, with red, yellow, and green lights to indicate nutrient levels in a particular food.
In its recent analysis Kornelia Hagen, researcher at the German Institute of Economic Research, investigates the question whether there is an empirical or theoretical basis for favouring one of the two labelling systems in light of consumer and health-care policy objectives. She concludes that there is no clear empirical justification for discarding either of the two models. However, explanatory approaches based upon information and behavioural economics indicate that the traffic light model has some clear advantages, primarily because consumers are only able to assimilate a limited amount of information when making purchase decisions.
For further information, see: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.357546.de/diw_wr_2010-19.pdf