Calorie labels: an effective tool in the battle against obesity?

Published on October 4th, 2016 – Obesity is a major problem in Western countries, causing a wide variety of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It is therefore vital to employ cost-effective, large-scale interventions to promote healthier lifestyles. In the United States, restaurants are required to use calorie labeling on their menus. Since the effects of such calorie labeling are still unknown, Camella Rising and Nadine Bol conducted a study to examine the effects of calorie labeling on people’s menu choices.

In this study, which was in collaboration with George Mason University, 179 students were randomly exposed to either a menu with or a menu without calorie labels. Via an online survey tool, these students were asked what items (one food and one beverage) they would order from the menu they were exposed to. The findings of this study revealed that calorie labeling can indeed help people to choose lower calorie foods and beverages. People who are better able to control their impulsivity benefitted even more from this calorie-labeling intervention. Future research could focus on other factors that help explain what menu choices people make. This way, health interventions and policy can better help stimulate healthy menu choices in the battle against obesity.

Read more? 
Rising, C. J., & Bol, N. (in press).
Nudging our way to a healthier population: The effect of calorie labeling and self-control on menu choices of emerging adults.Health Communication doi:10.1080/10410236.2016.1217452

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Published on 4-10-2016