Open Access Research article

View the label before you view the movie: A field experiment into the impact of Portion size and Guideline Daily Amounts labelling on soft drinks in cinemas

Willemijn M Vermeer1*, Ingrid HM Steenhuis1, Franca H Leeuwis1, Arjan ER Bos2, Michiel de Boer1 and Jacob C Seidell1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:438  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-438

Published: 6 June 2011



Large soft drink sizes increase consumption, and thereby contribute to obesity. Portion size labelling may help consumers to select more appropriate food portions. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of portion size and caloric Guidelines for Daily Amounts (GDA) labelling on consumers' portion size choices and consumption of regular soft drinks.


A field experiment that took place on two subsequent evenings in a Dutch cinema. Participants (n = 101) were asked to select one of five different portion sizes of a soft drink. Consumers were provided with either portion size and caloric GDA labelling (experimental condition) or with millilitre information (control condition).


Labelling neither stimulated participants to choose small portion sizes (OR = .75, p = .61, CI: .25 - 2.25), nor did labelling dissuade participants to choose large portion sizes (OR = .51, p = .36, CI: .12 - 2.15).


Portion size and caloric GDA labelling were found to have no effect on soft drink intake. Further research among a larger group of participants combined with pricing strategies is required. The results of this study are relevant for the current public health debate on food labelling.

Portion sizes; Food labelling; Obesity prevention; Environmental interventions