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To examine the influences of nutritional information and consumer characteristics on meal quality expectations, food selection and subsequent macronutrient intakes of consumers offered a reduced-fat option in a restaurant.
A target, full-fat (FF) main restaurant meal option was developed in a version substantially reduced in fat and energy (RF). Restaurant patrons were randomly placed into one of four treatment groups varying in provision of menu information about the target dish, and the actual version of that dish served (if ordered). A full-fat blind (FFB) control group was given no nutritional information in the menu and was served the FF version. The other three groups were all served the modified RF version: (i) reduced-fat blind (RFB), who were given no nutritional information; (ii) reduced-fat informed (RFI), who were given nutritional information; and (iii) reduced-fat informed with details (RFID), who were given the same nutritional information plus recipe modification details. Subjects rated their expected and actual liking, the pleasantness of taste, texture and appearance of the dish, how well the dish matched their expectations, and the likelihood of purchase again. Additional measures included the other dish selections, sociodemographic and attitudinal information.
A silver service (training) restaurant.
Members of the public (n = 279) consuming meals in the restaurant.
The presence of nutritional information on the menu did not significantly increase subsequent intakes of energy and fat from the rest of the meal, and did not significantly influence sensory expectations or post-meal acceptance measures (which also did not differ between the FF and RF versions). Consumer characteristics relating to fat reduction attitudes and behaviours were significantly related to the selection of different dishes.
Provision of RF alternatives in a restaurant can have significant positive dietary benefits. Menu nutritional information did not affect measures of meal acceptance. Further studies should identify which types of information formats might be most effective in enhancing the selection of ‘healthy’ options.
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