The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program
Increasing the Impact of Restaurant Menu Labeling
Chain restaurants around the country will soon be posting calorie information on their menus as a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The goal of menu labeling is to inform consumers, and the hope is that it will encourage customers to make healthier choices. Initial studies of restaurant menu labeling have found mixed results, showing it encourages lower calorie choices among some consumers. To address concerns that restaurant calorie labeling laws have not been as influential as they could be, we are conducting a mixed methods study to develop and evaluate ways to increase the impact of restaurant menu labeling among parents buying food for their children. We aim to contribute a deeper and more nuanced understanding of parents’ knowledge and use of current calorie labels as well as a path forward to improve the existing policy. This research has the potential to inform government or industry educational campaigns to supplement menu labeling.