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Your Environment. Your Health.

The Impact of Nutrition Labeling

Brian E. Saelens, Ph.D.
University of Washington
NIEHS Grant R01ES014240


Researchers supported by NIEHS report that nutrition labeling on fast-food restaurant menus increased parent awareness of calories but did not decrease the calories actually purchased for parents or children. Chain restaurants will be required to post nutritional information at point-of-purchase as part of national health reform, but few studies have examined how these regulations will effect children.


The researchers recruited participants from the Neighborhood Impact on Kids study. They compared restaurant receipts for 75 children (ages six to 11) and their parents before and after menu-labeling regulation in Seattle/King County with receipts from 58 children and parents in San Diego County where the regulation was not implemented.


In Seattle/King County the percentage of parents seeing the nutritional information increased from 44 percent prior to regulation to 87 percent after menu labels were added, but the average calories purchased for children did not change after regulation in either county. Although there was an approximately 100-calorie decrease in food purchased for the parents post-regulation, there was no significant difference between the counties.

Citation: Tandon PS, Zhou C, Chan NL, Lozano P, Couch SC, Glanz K, Krieger J, Saelens BE. The impact of menu labeling on fast-food purchases for children and parents. 2011. Oct Am J Prev Med 41(4):434-438.

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