180341 Does the public really want menu-labeling in fast food restaurants?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 11:00 AM

Jennifer Piron, MPH , Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation, County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Lisa V. Smith, MS, DrPH , Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation, County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Office of Senior Health, Los Angeles, CA
Christopher Jarosz, PhD , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Physical Activity and Senior Health Programs, Los Angeles, CA
Paul Simon, MD, MPH , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles, CA
BACKGROUND: Public health officials in California support legislation that would make it mandatory for large chain restaurants to list calorie information next to items on their menus. Yet, few studies have gauged the public's interests in menu labeling, especially among those who frequent fast food restaurants. METHODS: We administered a two-page questionnaire in English or Spanish sequentially to 639 respondents recruited at six public health centers in Los Angeles County in 2007. These centers are located in geographic regions with known clusters of fast food restaurants. The questionnaire asked about their awareness of calorie information in these restaurants and their willingness to use this information to make menu selections. RESULTS: Of the 639 respondents (survey response rate: 88%), 55% were female, 28% were African American, 43% were Latino, and 13% were White. The mean age of the sample was 35 years (SD 11.6). Fifty-four percent were overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9) or obese (BMI > 30); 74% reported visiting a fast food restaurant at least once in the past year and 22% had done so at least once a week; 19% remembered seeing any calorie information about food and drinks at these restaurants when deciding what to order. Nonetheless, 86% of the total sample thought it was important to have calorie information listed on the menu; 67% reported they would order food or drinks with fewer calories if the number of calories were listed next to the item; of these, 58% were overweight or obese. CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate public support for menu-labeling, especially among those who are overweight or obese.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe and update legislative efforts to implement menu-labeling in restaurant establishments. 2. Describe how menu-labeling in restaurant establishments can be used as a strategy to change the food environment and counteract the obesity epidemic. 3. Present practical research strategies for sampling the public regarding preferences and viewpoints about nutrition and local food environments.

Keywords: Obesity, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the planning, implementation, analysis, and interpretation phases.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.