More menu-labeling news
A new study out of Yale University's psychology department examines the relationship between the way calorie-content information is (or isn't) posted on menus and the amount people eat.
Research published December 17 in the American Journal of Public Health examined the amount of food people ate during and after meals for which they were given menus that included no information about calories; a calorie count for each item; or calorie counts plus a message noting that adults should eat about 2,000 calories per day.
In brief, the researchers found that people with no calorie information ordered an average of 2,189 calories for dinner and ate about 1,459 at that meal. After dinner, this group reported eating 179 more calories, for an evening total of 1,630.
Those who were given calorie information ordered an average of 1,862 calories and consumed 1,335. After dinner, they ate 294 more calories,for a total of 1,625.
The group given calorie counts plus the information about total calories required in a day ordered an average of 1,860 calories and ate 1,256. After dinner they ate 177 more calories for an evening total of 1,380 -- about 250 calories fewer than the group without calorie information.
The research involved fewer than 300 people, and the ordering and eating of the food took place in a university research building (though not one associated with nutrition research), not a fast-food joint. The food they ordered came from either Au Bon Pain or a local fast-food restaurant.
In a strange twist, "for a small number of participants (12.9%), the restaurant ran out of their ﬁrst item choice, in which case they selected another item." More than 10 percent doesn't strike me as "a small number," since that translates into about 30 people in the study. That seems kind of sloppy to me, and makes me wonder whether there was much difference between the number of calories in the food people really wanted and what they settled for.
The amount of food consumed by participants after the fast-food meal was self-reported, and the calorie counts were estimated using an online database. So, the way I read it, the number of calories folks ate in the evening -- an outcome that's positioned as one of the study's main findings-- is largely based on guesswork. Certainly not strong enough a result to warrant this conclusion:
The ﬁndings support the proposal that chain restaurants should be required [emphasis mine] to post calorie labels on restaurant menus; however, they suggest that to maximize the effectiveness of this policy, menus should also include a label informing individuals of the daily caloric requirements for an average adult.
I am admittedly skeptical about legislation that imposes menu labeling as the key to solving the nation's obesity problem. What do you make of this latest study? Does it alter your thinking about the possible impact of menu labeling?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
January 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity
Save & Share: Previous: To your health!
Next: Packaged diet meals rate pretty high -- with caveats
Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 4, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RedBird27 | January 4, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: lclcl33 | January 4, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: web_user | January 4, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: InDC123 | January 4, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ViennaGal | January 4, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: polarelf2003 | January 4, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: drmary | January 4, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: VelocityFulfillment | January 6, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kent_eng | January 6, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.