Posting Calorie Information At Fast-Food Menus Change Consumer Behaviors
If fast-food restaurants began to post calorie information on their menus could it possible change people’s behaviors? The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York who had mandatory food labeling says yes.
The department released important data from a survey that they have been collecting on more than 10,000 customers at 275 fast-food locations in 2007 and surveyed another 12,000 customers this year.
What they found was that there was a statistically significant decreased at four chains--McDonald's, Au Bon Pain, KFC and Starbucks. The diners claimed that when they saw the calorie information, they acted on it and purchased food containing fewer calories.
Their report suggested that 56 percent of fast-food customers reported seeing the calorie information. The researchers have reviled their data to the annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Washington that posting calorie information at fast-food menus change consumer behaviors.
This comes after an earlier study by researchers at New York University and Yale University, that included 1,156 adults who ate at Burger King, KFC, McDonald's and Wendy's immediately before and after the rule went into effect. Their study showed no changes to consumer habits in low-income neighborhoods. However, the city's researcher’s team said their study was more representative of eating habits because it included more people over a longer period of time and was not limited just low-income neighborhoods.
In July 2008, New York became the first U.S. city to require fast food restaurants to post calorie counts in large type on menu boards hoping that posting calorie information at fast-food menus change consumer behaviors and combat obesity while promoting good nutrition.
Currently, about one-third of U.S. adults are obese which runs a large risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other medical problems, which can also raise the cost of healthcare.
Lynn Silver, assistant commissioner for New York's Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control says, "dietary change is likely to come gradually; it will start with consumers interested in making informed, healthy eating decisions and we hope industry will respond by offering more healthier choices and appropriate portion sizes.”
It does appear that posting calorie information at fast-food menus change consumer behaviors. Many health advocates are hoping in the future more states make it mandatory to post calorie content on the menu.
Reference: USA Today
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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