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NewsBites July 2014 Issue

Review: Menu Calorie Counts Not Enough

Even as larger restaurant chains are adding calorie labels to their menus, as required by the Affordable Care Act, a review of the evidence cautions that those numbers alone may not change consumer behavior. The review of 31 studies, published in the Journal of Community Health, concluded that the best-designed studies “show that calorie labels do not have the desired effect in reducing total calories ordered.” Women, dieters and upper-income diners paid the most attention to restaurant calorie numbers, but overall the impact was negligible. “It may be the case that calorie labeling alone is not sufficient to modify consumer behavior in the desired direction,” researchers wrote. Other presentation formats, including color coding, physical activity equivalents and healthy logos or “traffic lights,” might prove more successful, they added.

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