Displaying calorie labels at fast-food restaurants doesn't appear to work: study
A new U.S. study finds that most people are not swayed by calorie counts on fast food restaurant menus. (Krechet/Shutterstock.com)
Published Monday, November 18, 2013 10:01AM EST
While the high calorie counts of artery-clogging fast foods are often printed right in front of our eyes, most people ignore them and go ahead and order their burgers and fries anyway, a new study finds.
New York University School of Medicine polled 2,000 Philadelphia fast food customers, aged 18 to 64, and found that few paid attention to calorie counts on menus, HealthDay reports.
Study author Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of population health and health policy, presented his findings Friday at the Obesity Society's annual meeting in Atlanta.
The research is published in the November issue of the journal Obesity.
To conduct the study, the research team collected customer receipts at McDonald's and Burger King restaurants and surveyed customers about how often they ate at fast food restaurants and whether they glanced at calorie information.
Researchers surveyed customers both before and after February 2010, when the Philadelphia calorie-count label mandate went into effect.
The researchers also conducted a telephone survey of the city's residents, to gauge how much people paid attention to calorie counts on restaurant menus.
Findings showed no difference in how often people ate at fast food restaurants or the amount of calories they consumed before and after the policy went into effect in Philadelphia, HealthDay reports.
Elbel led a separate 2011 study with similar findings, but this study examined 427 parents and teenagers in low-income areas of New York City and Newark, N.J., before and after mandatory menu labelling began in 2008.
While people noticed the labels, those labels didn't have much effect on their orders at the counter, the findings showed. That study was published in the International Journal of Obesity.