Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 72–80 | Cite as

Restaurant Menu Labeling Policy: Review of Evidence and Controversies

  • Eric M. VanEpps
  • Christina A. RobertoEmail author
  • Sara Park
  • Christina D. Economos
  • Sara N. Bleich
Psychological Issues (M Hetherington and V Drapeau, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Psychological Issues


In response to high rates of obesity in the USA, several American cities, counties, and states have passed laws requiring restaurant chains to post labels identifying the energy content of items on menus, and nationwide implementation of menu labeling is expected in late 2016. In this review, we identify and summarize the results of 16 studies that have assessed the impact of real-world numeric calorie posting. We also discuss several controversies surrounding the US Food and Drug Administration’s implementation of federally mandated menu labeling. Overall, the evidence regarding menu labeling is mixed, showing that labels may reduce the energy content of food purchased in some contexts, but have little effect in other contexts. However, more data on a range of ong-term consumption habits and restaurant responses is needed to fully understand the impact menu labeling laws will have on the US population’s diet.


Menu labeling Calorie labeling Obesity prevention Food policy 


Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Eric M. VanEpps, Christina A. Roberto, Sara Park, Christina D. Economos, and Sara N. Bleich declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric M. VanEpps
    • 1
  • Christina A. Roberto
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sara Park
    • 2
  • Christina D. Economos
    • 3
  • Sara N. Bleich
    • 4
  1. 1.VA Center for Health Equity Research and PromotionPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medical Ethics and Health PolicyPerelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.ChildObesity180, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and School of MedicineTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health Policy and ManagementJohn Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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