239894 A test of different menu labeling presentation methods

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:48 AM

Peggy J. Liu, BS , Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, NC
Christina A. Roberto, MS, MPhil, MPhil , Department of Psychology/Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Linda J. Liu , Department of Psychology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Kelly D. Brownell, PhD , Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
BACKGROUND: Mandatory calorie labels on chain restaurant menus are intended to inform consumers and help them make healthier choices when eating out. However, research on the impact of calorie labels has produced mixed findings. This study aimed to determine which of three calorie label presentation methods led to the greatest decrease in calories ordered and increase in accuracy of estimated calories ordered. METHODS: Participants (N=485) in an online survey were randomly assigned to either a menu: 1) without calorie labels; 2) with calorie labels and the statement “the recommended daily caloric intake for an average adult is 2000 calories”; 3) with calorie labels, menu items ordered from low to high calories, and daily caloric intake statement; or 4) with calorie labels, menu items ordered from low to high calories, daily caloric intake statement, and red/green circles indicating higher and lower calorie choices. Participants selected the items they would order if eating at this restaurant and were later asked to estimate how many calories they ordered. RESULTS: When combined, the calorie label groups ordered significantly fewer calories (M=1583, SD=1262) than the control group (M=1789, SD=1955), p=0.048, but there were no significant differences between the three calorie label conditions. Participants in the calorie label conditions were also significantly more accurate in estimating calories ordered compared to the control condition. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that calorie labels promote lower calorie choices and improve accuracy of caloric estimates. However, little additional benefit is gained by presenting calorie information in different formats on restaurant menus.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare different formats for providing calorie information on menus. 2. Design menus that promote healthier food and beverage choices.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a senior undergraduate student in psychology and conduct research on menu labeling, soda bottle labeling, and the effect of different food industry marketing tactics on consumers’ perceptions and consumption of food and beverages. I will graduate in May 2011 and will enter a marketing doctoral program in September 2011.
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.