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Visualizing what we eat in redesigned food labels

UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, in partnership with GOOD magazine, is hosting a contest to vote on a redesigned food nutrition label.  The entries can be viewed at Berkeley’s News21 site.  The idea behind the contest, as GOOD explains, is to create nutrition labels that more clearly indicate the level of healthiness of the food – if it is good or bad for you, how much of it is composed of fats, how heavily processed the food is, etc.

Many designers submitted entries to the contest.  Here is one that uses color coding as its main differentiating feature:


Though there are a lot of great features of this design, an obstacle to its being widely used is its greatest feature.  The use of color coding, while visually appealing and easily understood, may be prohibitively expensive to implement.  Manufacturers would no doubt resist.

Here is an example that at first glance, is similar to current nutrition labels:

Here is another example where color coding is used:

Again, color coding makes the health elements of this food item clear.  However, we don’t have a measure for the overall health of the item, for how many servings there are in the container, and particularly what the amount consumed vs. the suggested serving size is.  Though sodium, sugars, etc. are color coded, this graphic could be improved by providing more information about the food.

Take a look at the site – what do you think food labels today lack most?  Are better designed labels going to make a difference in America’s obesity epidemic?

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