Calorie Postings in Chain Restaurants in a Low-Income Urban Neighborhood: Measuring Practical Utility and Policy Compliance
Current strategies for combating obesity include recent federal legislation mandating calorie count postings in chain restaurants. This study describes the current practice of menu board calorie postings in a low-income urban neighborhood, identifies the extent to which current practice complies with existing policy, and evaluates the practical utility of menu boards to consumers. We conclude that although most postings were legally compliant, they did not demonstrate utility. Menu postings for individual servings are easily understood, but complex math skills are needed to interpret meals designed to serve more than one person. In some items, calories doubled depending on flavor and the calorie posting did not give enough information to make healthier selections. We identified specific strategies to improve practical utility and provide recommendations for policy implementation.
KeywordsLegislative health policy Obesity Point-of-purchase calorie postings Fast-food
- 1.Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 7th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2010.Google Scholar
- 3.Fraz E ed. Nutrient contribution of food away from home. In: Lin B-H, Guthrie, J, Fraz E, eds. America’s Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture; 1999. Agriculture Information Bulletin No. AIB-750.Google Scholar
- 4.Keystone center backgrounder—Keystone forum on away-from-home foods: opportunities for prevention weight gain and obesity report. 2006. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/CPIFoodAndExpenditures/Data. Accessed February 18, 2011.
- 19.Department of Health and Human Services. Food labeling; nutrition labeling of standard menu items in restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Fed Regist. 2011; 76(66): 19191–19236Google Scholar
- 20.Dunkin Donuts. http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/coolatta.html. Accessed July 02, 2011.
- 21.Pope TP. Well Blogs. 2008. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/a-high-price-for-healthy-food. Accessed July 02, 2011.