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Concept: Consumer protection


Herbal products available to consumers in the marketplace may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels. According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. Our research aimed to investigate herbal product integrity and authenticity with the goal of protecting consumers from health risks associated with product substitution and contamination.

Concepts: Organism, Species, Herbalism, DNA barcoding, World Health Organization, Herbal, Consumer protection, Consumer


In consumer food-sensory studies, sorting and closely related methods (for example, projective mapping) have often been applied to large product sets which are complex and fatiguing for panelists. Analysis of sorting by Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) is common, but this method discards relevant individual decisions; analysis by DISTATIS, which accounts for individual differences, is gaining acceptance. This research posits that replication can improve DISTATIS analysis by stabilizing consumer sensory maps, which are often extremely unstable. As a case study a fatiguing product set was sorted: 10 American whiskeys-5 bourbons and 5 ryes-were sorted into groups by 21 consumers over 2 replications. These products were chosen because American whiskeys are some of the most important distilled beverages in today’s market; in particular, “bourbon” (mashbill more than 50% corn) and “rye” (more than 50% rye) whiskeys are important and assumed to be products with distinct sensory attributes. However, there is almost no scientific information about their sensory properties. Data were analyzed using standard and aggregated DISTATIS and MDS. No significant relationship between mashbill and consumer categorization in whiskeys was found; instead, there was evidence of producer and aging effects. aggregated DISTATIS was found to provide more stable results than without replication, and DISTATIS results provided a number of benefits over MDS, including bootstrapped confidence intervals for product separation. In addition, this is the first published evidence that mashbill does not determine sensory properties of American whiskey: bourbons and ryes, while legally distinct, were not separated by consumers.

Concepts: Scientific method, Vodka, Consumer protection, Distilled beverage, Brandy, Whisky, Bourbon whiskey, American whiskey


Numerous consumer health information websites have been developed to provide consumers access to health information. However, lookup search is insufficient for consumers to take full advantage of these rich public information resources. Exploratory search is considered a promising complementary mechanism, but its efficacy has never before been rigorously evaluated for consumer health information retrieval interfaces.

Concepts: Health care, Website, Business, Information retrieval, Consumer protection, Consumer, Information science


Consumers are living longer, creating more pressure on the health system and increasing their requirement for self-care of chronic conditions. Despite rapidly-increasing numbers of mobile health applications (‘apps’) for consumers' self-care, there is a paucity of research into consumer engagement with electronic self-monitoring. This paper presents a qualitative exploration of how health consumers use apps for health monitoring, their perceived benefits from use of health apps, and suggestions for improvement of health apps.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Qualitative research, Quantitative research, Engagement, Consumer protection, Consumer


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genomic testing (PGT) allows individuals to learn about their genetic makeup without going through a physician, but some consumers share their results with their primary care provider (PCP).

Concepts: Psychology, Gene, Genetics, General practitioner, Primary care physician, Consumer protection, Consumer


To review sleep related consumer technologies, including mobile electronic device “apps,” wearable devices, and other technologies. Validation and methodological transparency, the effect on clinical sleep medicine, and various social, legal, and ethical issues are discussed.

Concepts: Engineering, Philosophy, Psychiatry, Bioethics, Justice, Consumer protection


BACKGROUND: New York City recently proposed a restriction to cap the portion size of all sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) sold in food-service establishments at 16 oz (473 mL). One critical question is whether such a policy may disproportionally affect low-income or overweight individuals.Objective: The objective was to determine the demographic characteristics of US individuals potentially affected by a 16-oz portion-size cap on SSBs and the potential effect on caloric intake. DESIGN: We analyzed dietary records from the NHANES 2007-2010. We estimated the proportion of individuals who consumed at least one SSB >16 fluid oz (473 mL) in restaurants by age, household income, and weight status. RESULTS: Of all SSBs >16 oz (473 mL) purchased from food-service establishments, 64.7% were purchased from fast food restaurants, 28.2% from other restaurants, and 4.6% from sports, recreation, and entertainment facilities. On a given day, the policy would affect 7.2% of children and 7.6% of adults. Overweight individuals are more likely to consume these beverages, whereas there was no significant difference between income groups. If 80% of affected consumers choose a 16-oz (473-mL) beverage, the policy would result in a change of -57.6 kcal in each affected consumer aged 2-19 y (95% CI: -65.0, -50.1) and -62.6 kcal in those aged ≥20 y (95% CI: -67.9, -57.4).Conclusion: A policy to cap portion size is likely to result in a modest reduction in excess calories from SSBs, especially among young adults and children who are overweight.

Concepts: Effect, Statistical significance, Affect, Household income in the United States, Calorie, Consumer protection, Drink, Consumer


This article describes an experiment to measure the impact of the Australasian “Health Star Rating” front of pack nutritional label system on consumer choice behaviour. This system presents a one-half to five star rating of nutritional quality via the front facings of food product packages. While this system has been recently rolled out across Australasia, no test of its impact on food choice has been conducted. A sample of 1200 consumers was recruited on exit from supermarkets in New Zealand. A 2 × 2 factorial design was used with two levels of cold cereal product nutritional status (high, five star/low, two star) and two levels of the Health Star Rating label (present/absent). The dependent variable was revealed choice behaviour. The results indicated that the presence of the label had a significant depressive effect on consumer preference, but that this impact was not moderated in any way by the nutritional status expressed by the label. The result represents a significant functional failure of the Health Star Rating label in this research environment. The nature of the failure is consistent with the consumers processing the label in much the same way as the nominal brand cues that dominate the retail food packaging.

Concepts: Nutrition, Food, Carbohydrate, Retailing, Preference, Consumer protection, Consumer theory, Supermarket


In France, 50% of consumers sweeten plain yogurts prior to consumption. This study measured how much sugar consumers added under contextualized testing conditions. Participants (199 French adults who regularly consume plain yogurt adding sugar) were given a plain yogurt (125 g) at the end of a full meal and were allowed to sweeten it with their usual sweetener (caster sugar, honey, or jam). The quantities added were measured indirectly by weighing the sweetener containers before and after use; they were then converted into equivalent quantities of sucrose, or “added sugar.” Participants were asked to describe their relative hunger, thirst, and liking for plain yogurt and to estimate the quantity of sweetener they had added. On average, participants added 13.6 g of sugar to their yogurts, which is higher than the 10.2 g of sugar contained in pre-sweetened commercial yogurts (125g). More sugar was added when subjects used jam (24.4 g/yogurt, n=36) as opposed to caster sugar (11.0 g/yogurt, n=134) or honey (12.1 g/yogurt, n=29). Age, socio-professional category, and BMI had a significant influence on added-sugar quantity. Based on behavior and attitude, participants could be separated into three evenly sized groups: “low sugar users” (n=67, median= 6.1 g/yogurt), who tended to control their food intake, “medium sugar users” (n=66, median= 11.4 g/yogurt), and “heavy sugar users” (n=66, median= 19.9 g/yogurt) who sought immediate satisfaction. To our knowledge, this study is the first to provide robust data on the amount of sugar consumers add to plain yogurts in contextualized conditions (self preparation during a real meal). Our findings show that consumers underestimated by half the quantity of sweetener they added.

Concepts: Measurement, Food, Sugar, Honey, Fructose, Sucrose, Consumer protection, Consumer


Professionals face conflicts of interest when they have a personal interest in giving biased advice. Mandatory disclosure-informing consumers of the conflict-is a widely adopted strategy in numerous professions, such as medicine, finance, and accounting. Prior research has shown, however, that such disclosures have little impact on consumer behavior, and can backfire by leading advisors to give even more biased advice. We present results from three experiments with real monetary stakes. These results show that, although disclosure has generally been found to be ineffective for dealing with unavoidable conflicts of interest, it can be beneficial when providers have the ability to avoid conflicts. Mandatory and voluntary disclosure can deter advisors from accepting conflicts of interest so that they have nothing to disclose except the absence of conflicts. We propose that people are averse to being viewed as biased, and that policies designed to activate reputational and ethical concerns will motivate advisors to avoid conflicts of interest.

Concepts: Professional, Typography, Consumer protection, Consumer, Leading