210918 Evaluating New York City's calorie labeling regulation: Assessing calorie content and consumer awareness

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:40 AM

Christina Huang, MPH , Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Tamara Dumanovsky, PhD , Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Recognizing the link between obesity, calorie intake, and fast food, New York City now requires restaurant chains with 15 or more stores nationally to post calories on menus, menu boards and item tags, clearly and conspicuously, and as prominently as the menu item name and price. The regulation, intended to make calorie information easily accessible at the point of purchase, was approved in early 2008 and enforcement started in July 2008.

To assess the impact of this regulation, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is conducting a customer receipt study at 275 regulated fast food and coffee chains. Baseline data was collected in Spring 2007, with follow-up in Spring 2009. Baseline data included 7318 lunchtime and 2957 coffee chain customers. Customers purchased 827 mean calories at fast food locations; one-third of purchases were over 1,000 calories. “Combination meals” at hamburger chains accounted for 31% of all purchases and averaged over 1,200 calories. At coffee chains, blended coffee drinks averaged 238 calories. We expect to report on changes from baseline to post-implementation in (1) mean calories purchased, (2) percentage of customers seeing calorie information, and (3) number of customers who report using calorie information.

DOHMH also conducted a consumer awareness survey two months pre- and two months post- the enforcement date. Customers reporting seeing calorie information increased from 25% before to 64% after enforcement. Even in chains that had previously posted calorie information on menu boards, the percentage of customers reporting seeing calorie information increased from 61% to 74%, suggesting a growing overall awareness.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain methods to evaluate public health policy interventions, 2. Describe measures of consumer awareness and use of calorie information, 3. Identify possible outcome measures for policy interventions.

Keywords: Obesity, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered