Availability of Point-of-Purchase Calorie Labeling: Its Relationship to Food Purchasing Decisions
Rendell, Sarah Litman
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The obesity epidemic has incited legislation aimed to inform consumers of the nutritional value of food items available in restaurants and fast food establishments, with the presumption that knowing the caloric content in a meal might enable patrons to make healthier choices when ordering. However, available research shows mixed results regarding consumers' use of calorie information to promote healthier purchases. The aim of this study was to determine whether menu type, specifically having viewed a menu with calorie disclosures or not, would interact with participants' BMI category to influence the number of calories ordered in a lunch meal. We also sought to identify which factors, such as availability of calorie information, dietary self-efficacy, BMI category, nutritional knowledge, and diet status, most influenced an individual's choice when ordering a lunch meal. 245 adults participated in the study and completed the questionnaire. Results indicated neither menu type, nor reporting having seen calorie information, was significantly related to the number of calories in the foods that participants ordered, even after controlling for demographic variables age, sex, income, education, race/ethnicity, and BMI. BMI did not serve as a moderator in the relationship between menu type and food calories ordered. Additionally, participants who ordered from a menu with calorie information were no better at estimating the number of calories in their meals than were participants who ordered from a menu without calorie information. Implications for policy change and clinical work with overweight and obese patients are discussed.