232168 Using posted calorie information to make lower-calorie fast food choices in NYC, 2009

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Tamara Dumanovsky, PhD , Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Christina Huang, MPH , Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Introduction: This study examines how customers might modify their caloric intake when using posted calorie information at fast food restaurants. Our earlier research found that customers who used calorie information purchased 97 fewer calories, on average, than those who didn't use the information. In this study we investigate customer purchasing patterns to see where those calorie savings come from. Methodology: We collected receipts and surveys from 8,489 lunchtime fast food customers at a random sample of locations in Spring 2009, one year after the city's calorie posting regulation went into effect. Survey questions included whether the customers saw calorie information and whether it affected their purchase. Receipt information was coded into 200 food categories based on the item name and ingredients. Results: One in six fast food customers said that they used the posted calorie information. At hamburger chains, these customers were less likely to purchase burgers (33% v. 46%) and fries (42% v. 56%) compared to customers who didn't see or use the information; they were also more likely to purchase salads (11% v. 2%). At one popular fast food chain, they were more likely to purchase the “low fat” sub (67% v. 55%). Regular sodas purchases was lower for customers who used the information (30% v. 42%) and diet soda was slightly more common for this group (13% v. 5%). Discussion: Customers who used posted calorie information chose healthier and lower calorie options. Posting calories helps customers identify healthier choices, and if chains modify their menus and introduce healthier options more people may benefit.

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

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate public health policy interventions. 2. Anaylze consumer awareness and use of calorie information. 3. Compare purchasing patterns between customers who used calorie information and those who didn’t.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee research and program evaluation for nutrition programs.
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.