Menu Labeling: Does Providing Nutrition Information at the Point of Purchase Affect Consumer Behavior?

URL: http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/20090630hermenulabeling.pdf

Dramatic increases in the consumption of away-from-home meals over the past 40 years have prompted growing interest in menu labeling, the practice of providing information on calories, fat, sodium and other selected nutrients in menu items at points of purchase, as a strategy to reduce obesity and diet-related chronic disease. This research synthesis reviews studies that have examined the use of menu labeling in away-from-home food establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias, and the potential impact of labeling on consumers food and beverage selections.


Americans spend nearly half of their food budget eating out or on away-from-home foods. These meals tend to be more calorie-dense and of poorer nutritional quality than foods and beverages consumed at home. The majority of restaurants do not provide nutrition information at the point of purchase, and most consumers underestimate the number of calories and fat in away-from-home foods. Although several studies have found that providing nutrition information at the point of purchase leads to modest increases in the selection of healthier menu items, additional research is needed to determine whether mandatory labeling requirements would have a meaningful and beneficial impact on consumers purchasing decisions. Menu labeling requirements also may encourage the restaurant industry to introduce new healthful menu options and reformulate existing products to reduce their calorie or fat content, which could lead to dietary improvements for all restaurant patrons, not just those who notice and use nutrition information.

Topics: Nutrition
Location: US
Resource Type: strategies and interventions
Publisher: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Date Last Updated: 2019-04-24 02:07:02

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