RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—At the annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Washington, DC, researchers from New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revealed new evidence that their city's pioneering labeling law, which requires that fast-food restaurants post the calorie counts of menu items, actually works to decrease the amount of fast-food calories people consume.
THE DETAILS: Researchers from New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene surveyed nearly 11,000 customers in 13 fast-food chains—McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Au Bon Pain, KFC, Popeye's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts—across 275 New York City locations in the spring of 2007, and another 12,000 customers earlier this year. They gave each customer a $2 Metrocard in exchange for his or her register receipt and completion of a brief survey.
What they found was that customers who read the calorie information on menu items posted in the chain purchased an average of 106 fewer calories than those who said they didn't notice the postings—754 calories' worth of food as opposed to 860 calories' worth. The difference was most pronounced at Burger King, and burger joints in general, where customers who read the posted info purchased 152 fewer calories, on average, than those who didn't. Fifteen percent of the customers surveyed said they saw the info on calorie counts and used it when making their orders.