Journal of Community Health

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1248–1269 | Cite as

The Influence of Calorie Labeling on Food Orders and Consumption: A Review of the Literature

  • Kamila M. Kiszko
  • Olivia D. Martinez
  • Courtney Abrams
  • Brian Elbel
Review

Abstract

Obesity is a challenging public health problem that affects millions of Americans. Increasingly policy makers are seeking environmental and policy-based solutions to combat and prevent its serious health effects. Calorie labeling mandates, including the provision in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that is set to begin in 2014, have been one of the most popular and most studied approaches. This review examines 31 studies published from January 1, 2007 through July 19, 2013. It builds on Harnack and French’s 2008 review and assesses the evidence on the effectiveness of calorie labeling at the point of purchase. We find that, while there are some positive results reported from studies examining the effects of calorie labeling, overall the best designed studies (real world studies, with a comparison group) show that calorie labels do not have the desired effect in reducing total calories ordered at the population level. Moving forward, researchers should consider novel, more effective ways of presenting nutrition information, while keeping a focus on particular subgroups that may be differentially affected by nutrition policies.

Keywords

Obesity Nutrition policy Calorie labeling Menu labeling Fast food 

References

  1. 1.
    Malnick, S., & Knobler, H. (2006). The medical complications of obesity. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 99(9), 565–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Flegal, K., Carroll, M., Kit, B., & Ogden, C. (2012). Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(5), 491–497.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ogden, C., Carroll, M., Kit, B., & Flegal, K. (2012). Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(5), 483–490.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and obesity: adult obesity. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#Groups.
  5. 5.
    Hammond, R., & Levine, R. (2010). The economic impact of obesity in the United States. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 3, 285–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bowman, S., & Vinyard, B. (2004). Fast food consumption of U.S. adults: Impact on energy and nutrient intakes and overweight status. Journal of American College of Nutrition, 23(2), 163–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Todd, J., Mancino, L., Lin, B., & Jessica, E. (2010). The impact of food away from home on adult diet quality. ERR: United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 90.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mancino, L., Todd, J., & Lin, B. (2010). How food away from home affects children’s diet quality. ERR: United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 104.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Liu, M., Kasteridis, P., & Yen, S. (2013). Who are consuming food away from home and where? Results from the consumer expenditure surveys. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 40(1), 191–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    111th Congress (2010). Patient protection and affordable care Act. H.R. 3590, PL 111–148, sec. 4205(b)(i)–(iii).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). State and local policies for chain restaurants. Retrieved from: http://www.cspinet.org/menulabeling/state-local-policies.html.
  12. 12.
    Roberto, C., Agnew, H., & Brownell, K. (2009). An observational study of consumers’ accessing of nutrition information in chain restaurants. American Journal of Public Health, 99(5), 820–821.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Girz, L., Polivy, J., Herman, C., & Lee, H. (2011). The effects of calorie information on food selection and intake. International Journal of Obesity, 36, 1–7.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bates, K., Burton, S., Huggins, K., & Howlett, E. (2011). Battling the bulge: menu board calorie legislation and its potential impact on meal repurchase intentions. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28(2), 104–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Elbel, B. (2011). Consumer estimation of recommednded and actual calories at fast food restaurants. Obesity, 19(10), 1971–1978.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Finkelstein, E., Strombotne, K., Chan, N., & Krieger, J. (2011). Mandatory menu labeling in one fast-food chain in King County, Washington. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 40(2), 122–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gerend, M. (2009). Does calorie information promote lower calorie fast food choices among college students? Journal of Adolescent Health, 44(1), 84–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Block, J. P., Condon, S. K., Kleinman, K., et al. (2013). Consumers’ estimation of calorie content at fast food restaurants: Cross sectional observational study. British Medical Journal, 346, f2907.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Martinez, O., Roberto, C., Kim, J., Schwartz, M., & Brownell, K. (2013). A Survey of undergraduate student perceptions and use of nutrition information labels in a university dining hall. Health Education Journal, 72(3), 319–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. (2008). Menu Labeling in chain restuarants: Opportunities for public policy. Retrieved from: http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/reports/RuddMenuLabelingReport2008.pdf.
  21. 21.
    Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2009). Summary of polls on nutrition labeling in restaurants. Retrieved from: www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/census_menu_board_question.pdf.
  22. 22.
    Prins, A., Gonzales, D., Crook, T., & Hakkak, R. (2012). Impact of menu labeling on food choices of Southern undergraduate students. Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy, S4, 001.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Harnack, L., & French, S. (2008). Effect of point-of-purchase calorie labeling on restaurant and cafeteria food choices: A review of the literature. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 51.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Swartz, J. J., Braxton, D., & Viera, A. J. (2011). Calories menu labeling on quick-service restaurant menus: an updated systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8(1), 135.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Loureiro, M. L., & Rahmani, D. (2013, August 4–6). Calorie labeling and fast food choices in surveys and actual markets: some new behavioral results. Paper presented at: 2013 AAEA & CAES Joint Annual Meeting; Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bassett, M., Dumanovsky, T., Huang, C., et al. (2008). Purchasing behavior and calorie information at fast-food chains in New York City, 2007. American Journal of Public Health, 98(8), 1457–1459.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Dumanovsky, T., Huang, C., Nonas, C., Matte, T., Bassett, M., & Silver, L. (2011). Changes in energy content of lunchtime purchases from fast food restaurants after introduction of calorie labelling: cross sectional customer surveys. BMJ, 343, d4464.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Elbel, B., Kersh, R., Brescoll, V., & Dixon, L. (2009). Calorie labeling and food choices: a first look at the effects on low-income people in New York City. Health Affairs, 28(6), 1110–1121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Elbel, B., Gyamfi, J., & Kersh, R. (2011). Child and adolescent fast-food choice and the influence of calorie labeling: A natural experiment. International Journal of Obesity, 35(4), 493–500.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Tandon, P., Zhou, C., Chan, N., et al. (2011). The impact of menu labeling on fast-food purchases for children and parents. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 41(4), 434–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Vadiveloo, M., Dixon, L., & Elbel, B. (2011). Consumer purchasing patterns in response to calorie labeling legislation in New York City. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bollinger, B., Leslie, P., & Sorensen, A. (2010). Calorie posting in chain restaurants. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 3(1), 91–128.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pulos, E., & Leng, K. (2010). Evaluation of a voluntary menu-labeling program in full-service restaurants. American Journal of Public Health, 100(6), 1035–1039.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Holmes, A., Serrano, E., Machin, J., Duetsch, T., & Davis, G. (2013). Effect of different children’s menu labeling designs on family purchases. Appetite, 62, 198–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Chu, Y., Frongillo, E., Jones, S., & Kaye, G. (2009). Improving patrons’ meal selections through the use of point-of-selection nutrition labels. American Journal of Public Health, 99(11), 2001–2005.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lowe, M., Tappe, K., Butryn, M., et al. (2011). An intervention study targeting energy and nutrient intake in worksite cafeterias. Eating Behaviors, 11(3), 144–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Freedman, M. (2011). Point-of-selection nutrition information influences choice of prtion size in an all-you-can-eat university dining hall. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 14(1), 86–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Webb, K., Solomon, L., Sanders, J., Akiyama, C., & Crawford, P. (2011). Menu labeling responsive to consumer concerns and shows promise for changing patron purchases. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 6(2), 166–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Downs, J. S., Wisdom, J., Wansink, B., & Loewenstein, G. (2013). Supplementing menu labeling with calorie recommendations to test for facilitation effects. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9), 1604–1609.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Krieger, J. W., Chan, N. L., Saelens, B. E., et al. (2013). Menu labeling regulations and calories purchased at chain restaurants. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(6), 595–604.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Vanderlee, L., & Hammond, D. (2013). Does nutrition information on menus impact food choices? Comparisons across two hospital cafeterias. Public Health Nutrition. doi:10.1017/S136898001300164X.
  42. 42.
    Ellison, B., Lusk, J. L., & Davis, D. (2013). Looking at the label and beyond: The effects of calorie labels, health consciousness, and demographics on caloric intake in restaurants. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10, 21.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Liu, P. J., Roberto, C. A., Liu, L. J., & Brownell, K. D. (2012). A test of different menu labeling presentations. Appetite, 59, 770–777.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Harnack, L., French, S., Oakes, J., Story, M., Jeffery, R., & Rydell, S. (2008). Effects of calorie labeling and value size pricing on fast-food meal choices: results from an experimental trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 63.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Roberto, C., Larsen, P., Agnew, H., Baik, J., & Brownell, K. (2010). Evaluating the impact of menu labeling on food choices and intake. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 312–318.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Bates, K., Burton, S., Howlett, E., & Huggins, K. (2009). The roles of gender and motivation as moderators of the effects of calorie and nutrient information provision on away-from-home foods. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 43(2), 249–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Wisdom, J., Downs, J., & Loewensteing, G. (2010). Promoting healthy choices: Information versus convenience. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(2), 164–178.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Stutts, M., Zank, G., Smith, K., & Williams, S. (2011). Nutrition information and children’s fast food menu choices. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 45(1), 52–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tandon, P., Wright, J., Zhou, C., Rogers, C., & Christakis, D. (2010). Nutrition menu labeling may lead to lower-calorie restaurant meal choices for children. Pediatrics, 125(2), 244–248.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Giesen, J., Payne, C., Remco, H., & Jansen, A. (2011). Exploring how calorie information and taxes on high-calorie foods influence lunch decisions. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93, 689–694.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Morley, B., Scully, M., Martin, J., Niven, P., Dixon, H., & Wakefield, M. (2013). What types of nutrition menu labelling lead consumers to select less energy-dense fast food? An experimental study. Appetite, 67, 8–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wei, W., & Miao, L. (2013). Effects of calorie information disclosure on consumers’ food choices at restaurants. Int J Hospitality Manag, 33, 106–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Elbel, B., Mijanovich, T., Dixon, L. B., et al. (2013). Calorie labeling, fast food purchasing and restaurant visits. Obesity, 21(11), 2172–2179.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Schindler, J., Kiszko, K., Abrams, C., Islam, N., & Elbel, B. (2013). Environmental and individual factors affecting menu labeling utilization: A qualitative research study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1113(5), 667–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Auchincloss, A. H., Young, C., Davis, A. L., Wasson, S., Chilton, M., & Karamanian, V. (2013). Barriers and facilitators of consumer use of nutrition labels at sit-down restaurant chains. Public Health Nutrition, 16(12), 2138–2145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Cohn, E. G., Larson, E. L., Araujo, C., Sawyer, V., & Williams, O. (2012). Calorie postings in chain restaurants in a low-income urban neighborhood: measuring practical utility and policy compliance. Journal of Urban Health, 89(4), 587–597.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Bleich, S. N., Herring, B. J., Flagg, D. D., & Gary-Webb, T. L. (2012). Reduction in purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages among low-income black adolescents after exposure to caloric information. American Journal of Public Health, 102, 329–335.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Dowray, S., Swartz, J. J., Braxton, D., & Viera, A. J. (2013). Potential effect of physical activity based menu labels on the calorie content of selected fast food meals. Appetite, 62, 173–181.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Levy, D. E., Riis, J., Sonnenberg, L. M., Barraclough, S. J., & Thorndike, A. N. (2012). Food choices of minority and low-income employees: A cafeteria intervention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 43(3), 240–248.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kamila M. Kiszko
    • 1
  • Olivia D. Martinez
    • 1
  • Courtney Abrams
    • 1
  • Brian Elbel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Population HealthNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York University Wagner School of Public ServiceNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations