Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Do Menu Labels Influence You? [AUDIO]

If your breakfast sandwich has 450 calories without meat, but 600 calories with meat added, would you go for the one with fewer calories? Chances are, you wouldn’t.

Flickr User Ed Yourdon

That’s according to a new study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“I think a lot of people do use the information. Usually people who already are trying to watch what they eat really like having that information available,” said Julie Downs, Associate Research Professor of Decision Science at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the study.

“What it doesn’t seem to be achieving is leading to some great reduction in calories that people are eating across the population. We still have large populations who are eating far more calories than they should and the labels don’t seem to be bringing that down. Even adding recommendations didn’t help.”

“It’s a nice thought that people are eating too much only because they don’t know how many calories are in their food, but eating decisions are really complicated and there are a lot of reasons people eat what they do even if they do know what’s in it. Maybe they don’t care how many calories are in their food,” said Downs. “Sometimes, if people are running out to lunch during work, they only have a certain amount of time and run to get the closest thing and that may not necessarily be the healthiest.”

Several states and municipalities across the country have already introduced mandatory menu labeling. Soon, nationwide regulations will go into effect as the result of a new health care law. While well intentioned, the new data show that providing the calorie count does not help people make healthier choices.

So, what can restaurants do to encourage the healthier options?

“It’s really difficult. There are some things that are being tried. Some places are providing information like how many minutes you have to exercise to work off this particular menu item, or traffic lights. A green light is for something that’s healthier. A red light is for something that’s a little unhealthier. It may be more beneficial for restaurants to introduce monetary incentives to nudge people toward the healthier options.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Best of NJ 101.5

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://nj1015.com using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for New Jersey Insiders quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive New Jersey Insiders contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.