This article examines the impact of calorie labeling on lunchtime purchases from major New York City fast-food restaurants, after the city’s 2008 calorie labeling requirement went into effect. In 2009, 15 percent of lunchtime customers reported using the calorie information, and these customers purchased 106 fewer calories, on average, than customers who did not see or use the calorie information (757 calories compared with 863 calories). At 168 randomly selected locations of New York City’s top 11 fast-food restaurants, the authors conducted surveys with 7,309 lunchtime customers in 2007 and 8,489 customers in 2009. The researchers surveyed customers about their use of calorie labeling, collected lunch receipts and analyzed the energy content of the meals customers purchased. Key Findings:
This research indicates that while calorie labeling was associated with a drop in calories purchased at some major chains, calorie labeling did not lead to reductions across all New York City’s fast-food restaurants.