248268 Availability and usability of web-based nutrition information for major chain restaurants

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kathryn Ross, MS , Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Michael Perri, PhD, ABPP , College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
INTRODUCTION: Chain restaurants commonly provide nutritional information on their websites, but the accessibility and usability of this information is unknown. METHODS: We systematically recorded the available nutrition information, site design (e.g., text-only vs. required browser plug-ins), and estimated loading times with dial-up (56k) and ISDN modem speeds of websites representing the 50 highest grossing chain restaurants in the United States, as ranked by Restaurants & Institutions. RESULTS: Of the 50 chain websites, 42 offered nutritional information while 8 offered none. Within these 42, 100.0% reported caloric content and total fat, 88.1% reported saturated fat, 71.4% reported trans fat, 92.9% reported fiber, and 95.2% at least one macronutrient. With respect to accessibility, 49 of the 50 websites used javascript and 32 used Adobe Flash, both of which require up-to-date browsers and plug-ins for accurate display. Thirteen websites offered information only as a pdf file (requiring the download of Adobe Acrobat). The mean load time of the websites using dial-up was 303.9 seconds (range: 3.5 to 3856.5 seconds) and 111.1 seconds for ISDN (range: 1.8 to 1403.7 seconds). DISCUSSION: Most restaurant chains provide nutritional information via their websites. However, sophisticated site designs commonly required additional software and lengthy times for the loading of pages. These factors represent potential barriers for people with limited access to high-speed internet and up-to-date computers. Restaurant chains can enhance the dissemination of nutritional information to populations with limited computing resources by avoiding the use of browser plug-ins and by offering “text-only” options.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the availability and usability of nutrition information offered on chain restaurant websites. Identify features that make web-based nutritional information more accessible.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present this abstract based on my original work in this area. I am qualified as a researcher by my MS in clinical psychology, my publication on related obesity and nutrition topics, and my current work in clinical psychology (as a doctoral candidate) and public health (working on a MPH in biostatistics).
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.