Effect of Point-of-Purchase Calorie Labeling on Restaurant and Cafeteria Food Choices

Data from five separate studies supports the claim that calorie labeling has an effect on food choices in away-from-home settings. Making calorie and nutritional information available to consumers may result in lower calorie intake.

This review of published literature examined six studies that observed the effects of point-of-purchase calorie content information on consumer food choices. The authors used the PUBMED and Google Scholar search engines to identify relevant studies. Several studies observed food consumption patterns in university and corporate cafeterias. One study provided signs and leaflets that contained only calorie content information. Another used computerized menus that displayed calories, saturated fat, fiber, and added sugar for each meal and allowed consumers to make additional selections based on the available information.

Key Findings:

  • Adults indicated lower purchase intentions for hamburgers after receiving mailed surveys containing calorie content information.
  • Purchases of carbohydrate-rich foods were significantly lower during the labeling period in a university cafeteria.

Making calorie and nutritional information available at restaurants and cafeterias may result in consumers making healthier choices. A limitation of the study is that it does not account for broad social and personal factors that many believe have a significant impact on food consumption patterns.