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On this page you will find answers to recurrent questions about CLYMBOL as well as basic information about health and nutrition claims.

Health Claims and Symbols

What is a health claim?

A health claim refers to a statement which suggests or implies a connection between health and a food category (e.g. beverages, dairy and cereal products), food or one of its components.

An example: contains calcium which is necessary for bone growth.

What is a nutrition claim?

A nutrition claim is a reference which establishes, suggests or implies a positive effect of a food due to nutritional properties by

  • its energy (caloric) content which it
    • provides
    • provides with a reduced or increased amount
    • does not provide
  • its nutrients or other substances which it
    • contains
    • contains in a reduced or increased amount
    • does not contain

Examples: sugar free, reduced fat

What does a health claim look like and are there different types?

Health claims typically consist of

  1. an ingredient (nutrient, substance, food or food category)
  2. a function
  3. an outcome

The mentioned elements can be featured on the package together or separately and the different combinations can be categorised as following: a general function claim (Art.13, Regulation 1924/2006), a reduction of disease risk claims (Art. 14, Regulation 1924/2006) or vague health outcome claims (general health claims) (Art. 10.3, Regulation 1924/2006).

Can anyone just put a health claim on a food package?

No, the regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 controls the use of health claims on foods and only claims supported by significant scientific agreement can be acknowledged by the EU. Approved health claims can be found here.

Why do we have nutrition and health claims?

An unhealthy diet is an important, but also an influenceable risk-factor for many illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Encouraging people to eat healthier food is one way to improve their diet and health. Nutrition and health claims can help to inform consumers by identifying healthier food products or those which suit their personal health needs.

What are health symbols on food products?

Several health symbols are used in the EU. The symbols were created by government agencies, health charities and food producers so people can easily identify healthier food products. The best known symbols include the Dutch Choices logo, the Nordic Keyhole and tooth-friendly logos. Also various heart symbols, e.g. the Finnish Heart Symbol, can be found on food packages.

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What is the CLYMBOL project?

Health claims and symbols on food packages are designed to help inform consumers to make a healthy choice, but do they really have an impact? CLYMBOL ("Role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour") is a project which researches exactly that. The project, funded by the European Commission, started in 2012 and ends in 2016. There are several partners from different European countries involved who are known for their expertise in cognitive consumer psychology, economics, marketing, nutrition and public health. More information about the consortium can be found on our homepage at partners. The research project will result in several scientific publications. A list of already published articles, which includes open access papers, can be found here.

How does EU-funded research work?

CLYMBOL is an EU-funded project. You can find the technical details including our grant agreement number here.To optimise work efficiency, the project is divided in several work areas, led by experts from our project consortium. Before CLYMBOL started, all project partners have signed a Grant Agreement with the European Commission, detailing what and how the project will be conducted. This includes studies and other tasks, which are defined in the Description of Work (DoW). Once this Grant Agreement has been signed, any changes to the work undertaken in CLYMBOL have to be approved by the European Commission first. This prevents any changes or influences from third parties. In addition to this, all project partners have signed a Consortium Agreement where their work and tasks are specified. Lastly, CLYMBOL, as many other EU-funded research projects, has a Stakeholder Advisory Board (SAB) which consists of experts that closely follow and monitor the project, provide input and function as a sounding board for all the work we do. Our SAB consists of 13 key experts from European stakeholders involved in health claims (European and national food authorities, consumer and patient organisations and industry representatives).

Where do I find results of the CLYMBOL project?

There are several ways to receive information about the CLYMBOL project. Results are and will be published and a list of publications can be found here. Our newsletter is also a great way to be informed. You can easily sign up here. If you want in depth information, we recommend to attend the final conference on June 15 2016 in Brussels, Stanhope Hotel. Sign up for free.

How do I interpret CLYMBOL's results?

To properly conduct a study, researchers have to focus on a specific research question. A study, therefore, can only answer that particular question. The CLYMBOL project consists of over 30 studies, each focuses on individual aspects. Every study has its own set-up and methods, adjusted to the research topic. Some are qualitative studies with only a few test persons. Others are quantitative studies, conducted with thousands of people. That’s why it is important to bear in mind which study the results have been derived from and which questions can actually be answered by that specific study and which cannot.

Why is the CLYMBOL project relevant for me?

The CLYMBOL project was started to find out how health-related information, claims as well as symbols, on food products can influence consumer understanding, purchase and consumption. The project not only analyses individual characteristics like consumer motivation and ability to process health-related information, but also considers differences between European countries. Through its holistic approach, the CLYMBOL project will provide a solid information basis for future research and public policy and will offer implications and recommendations for stakeholders such as policymakers, consumer and patient organisations as well as the European food industry.

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