Evaluating the impact of mandatory menu labeling on the nutritional quality of restaurant offerings

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.The U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (health care reform law) includes a national requirement for calorie labeling at chain restaurants with 20 or more locations. Development and implementation of regulations related to this new policy are expected to occur within the next one to two years, and studies evaluating the public health effects of this policy need to be developed and initiated rapidly. In preparation for conducting a quasi-experimental study to examine the influence of mandatory point-of-purchase calorie labeling on the nutritional quality of restaurant menu offerings, the purpose of this study is to analyze baseline (pre-mandatory labeling) trends in the calorie content of restaurant menu offerings at 10 leading fast food restaurant chains over 14 years (1997-2010). A data set that includes nutrient composition information will be assembled using current and archived versions of the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center (NCC) Food and Nutrient Database. In this database, menu items available at each of the restaurants and their nutrient composition have been updated every other year on an alternating schedule, thus allowing for examination of marketplace trends over an extended period. Trends in calorie content, nutrients and food groups believed to linked with energy balance (e.g. fiber, added sugars, vegetable servings, etc.) will be examined in this study.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $148,518.00

Awarded on: 12/1/2010

Time frame: 11/15/2010 - 11/14/2012

Grant Number: 68383


University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Mayo Mail Code 197
420 Delaware Street, S.E.
Minneapolis, 55455-0381


Lisa J. Harnack
Project Director