ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (7): 1228-1238.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.01228

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The promotive effect of Physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labels on healthy behaviors and its cognitive mechanisms

CHEN Jing(), ZHANG Manlu, LI Yuyang   

  1. School of Psychology, Beijing Sport University, Beijing 100084, China
  • Received:2022-10-18 Online:2023-07-15 Published:2023-04-23
  • Contact: CHEN Jing


Physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labels, as a type of “front-of-package” (FOP) food label, provide two types of information about food: calorie amounts and the amount of physical activity required to burn off those calories. Because of its additional information on physical activity, PACE label is considered an effective strategy to tackle the increasingly serious obesity problem. This paper first summarizes the relevant research evidence on PACE label in promoting healthy eating and exercise behaviors. In terms of promoting healthy eating, PACE labels can reduce consumers’ willingness to choose unhealthy foods, effectively reduce calories selected and consumed by consumers, and significantly increase selection and consumption of healthy food in both laboratory and field experiments. In terms of promoting exercise behaviors, although evidence is relatively less robust, PACE labels can enhance individuals’ intention to exercise and promote actual exercise behaviors. Previous studies mainly focused on the effectiveness of PACE labels and lacked a systematic theoretical model. Therefore, the cognitive mechanism of PACE label is integrated into a single model to fill this gap, which includes two pathways. The first pathway is the PACE label-mental simulation-emotion-behavior pathway. That is, the PACE label affects the individual’s emotional response to food through spontaneous mental simulations of food consumption and exercise, thereby affecting subsequent eating behavior. The second pathway is the PACE label-mental simulation-health goal-behavior pathway. That is, the PACE label activates the individual's health goals through mental simulations and further affects subsequent eating behaviors and exercise behaviors. At the same time, the activation of health goals may also further affect an individual's emotional response to food intake, which in turn affects food decisions and eating behaviors. Future research can further explore the applicable groups and conditions of the two pathways, the possible negative impact of the PACE label, and the integration of different dietary interventions to help consumers form sustainable healthy eating habits and exercise habits.

Key words: PACE label, healthy behaviors, eating behaviors, exercise, cognitive mechanisms

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