Online Program

Impact of menu labeling on parents and their children in four diverse los angeles communities

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Valerie Ruelas, MSW, Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Ellen Iverson, MPH, Department of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Jennifer Jackson, MPH, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
John Chang, MPH, Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Meghan Treese, BS, Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Cesar Arauz, AAS, Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
The 2010 Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that fast food/chain restaurants with over 19 outlets clearly display calorie content of all menu items. The impact of calorie menu labeling on consumers is unclear, especially when comparing communities with significant differences in rates of overweight/obesity and access to healthy food choices. A mixed-methods study using focus groups and venue exit surveys assessed the impact of menu labeling on consumers of three fast food chain restaurants in four diverse socio-demographic Los Angeles County communities. The majority of parents (53%) did not notice menu board calorie postings. Of those who did, 17% found the information confusing. Only 14% made an attempt to lower calorie intake. However, focus group respondents from high income communities only indicated they would attempt to lower calorie intake at a later meal. The mean caloric intake was not significantly different for the 38% who regarded their food purchased a snack compared to the 57% who considered their purchase a meal (496 vs. 675 for adults; 465 vs. 542 for children, respectively). Significantly fewer respondents (26% and 37%) from the two communities with lowest socio-economic status offered accurate knowledge of daily recommended calorie consumption compared to respondents from middle and high income communities (48% and 74%). Calorie postings does not appear to significantly impact purchasing behavior. Limited knowledge of appropriate calorie intake likely impacts the meaning of posted calories. More calorie education and clearer posting is needed to adequately inform consumers.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify difference of the impact of menu labeling between socio-diverse communities. List factors that motivate purchasing behavior for parents and their children. Discuss how lack of knowledge regarding calories and difficulty in recognizing posted calorie information impedes the menu labeling mandate.

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Since 2004, I’ve directed the USC+CHLA Community Diabetes Initiatives and manage the program’s research grants and projects including two center grants, LookAhead Action for Health in Diabetes and UCLA/USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. I have been the research director/coordinator on 15 projects and the PI or Co-PI on 4 community evaluation projects assessing farmers’ markets; the demographics, food and physical activity behaviors of individuals; menu labeling and food access.
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.