227421 Nutrition labeling in King County: A Focus group investigation of consumers' perspectives

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Luiza Marinescu, MN , Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit, Public Health Seattle and King County, Seattle, WA
Background and significance: King County recently passed a regulation that requires chain restaurants to have nutrition information for standard menu items at the point of purchase. This qualitative investigation study is providing insights on how the regulation is impacting adolescents and parents of young children from low-income and highly diverse racial and ethic minority populations, who are at highest risk of obesity and related disease, attending to the issue of equity. Methods: We conducted 11 focus groups using a purposive sampling strategy for the selection of participants and composition of the focus groups. We focused the inquiry on: (1) What factors are influencing the choice of restaurants and menu selection, and (2) How people are processing and using the nutrition labeling information. We used a combination of inductive and deductive strategies in data collection and analysis. Preliminary findings: (1) Having a healthy meal is not a main factor influencing choice. Price, satisfying meal, taste, clean place, convenient location, and children's picks are more important. Marketing practices of fast food industry are impacting children and adolescents' choices. (2) The way information is currently posted is not very clear or easy to find. More education might be beneficial. Information is seen as more useful if having health concerns. Very few focus group participants are already using nutrition labeling to make healthier choices. Our findings are consistent with newest quantitative research from other studies and might help explain why such regulation is having a modest impact on low income minority communities.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe factors influencing choice of restaurant and menu selection among adolescents and parents of children from low income ethnically diverse neighborhoods. 2. Explain how nutrition labeling information from King County regulated restaurants is processed by these population groups. 3. Differentiate findings for amending existing nutrition labeling policies or for designing new ones.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I work as social research scientist for a local health department and I have expertise in conducting program evaluation and qualitative research investigations.
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.