Background: The consumption of a healthy balanced diet is the cornerstone of treatment for people living with type 2 diabetes (PLWT2DM). The United Kingdom recommends a standardised voluntary front-of-pack food labelling system which uses the green–amber–red colour coding to indicate the presence of nutrients in a food item. Research with PLWT2DM suggests that they may find it challenging to interpret the information on food labels. This paper draws from a larger study exploring nutrition information practices for PLWT2DM. The aim of this paper is to explore the experiences of using nutrition information found on food labels among PLWT2DM and their partners/carers. Methods: This study used a qualitative and mixed methods design, using a solicited 4-week unstructured diary followed by a qualitative interview with each participant. The theoretical framework drew on practice theory. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Nineteen PLWT2DM and one partner took part. Data consisted of 19 diaries and interviews. Almost all participants used food labels to help manage their condition; however, the colour-coding link with traffic lights appeared to overemphasise the need to avoid foods with red labels. Participants' beliefs about sugar influenced their food choices which in turn could impact on their nutritional intake. Highly developed mathematical skills were needed to interpret information about portion sizes. Conclusions: Healthcare professionals and patient support groups should focus more on educating PLWT2DM about how to interpret food labels so that they are able to apply these to their own food choices. Future research and development of subsequent versions of the food labelling system should include PLWT2DM to ensure that labels are both clear and relevant to them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1143
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2023


  • food labels
  • nutrition information
  • qualitative research
  • traffic light system
  • type 2 diabetes


Dive into the research topics of '‘Feta is obviously very dangerous stuff looking at all those reds’: Can nutrition labelling help people living with type 2 diabetes to self‐manage their condition?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this