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According to the US Affordable Care Act, restaurant chains are required to provide energy (calorie) and other nutrition information on their menu. The current study examined the impact of menu labelling containing calorie information and recommended daily calorie intake, along with subjective nutrition knowledge, on intention to select lower-calorie foods prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Full factorial experimental design with participants exposed to four variants of a sample menu in a 2 (presence v. absence of calorie information) ×2 (presence v. absence of recommended daily calorie intake).
Large, public university in the Southwest USA.
Primarily undergraduate college students.
Majority of participants were 19–23 years of age (mean 21·8 (sd 3·6) years). Menu information about calorie content and respondents’ subjective nutrition knowledge had a significantly positive impact on students’ intention to select lower-calorie foods (β=0·24, P<0·001 and β=0·33, P<0·001, respectively); however, recommended daily calorie intake information on the menu board did not influence students’ intention to select lower-calorie foods (β=0·10, P=0·105). Gender played a significant role on purchase intent for lower-calorie menu items, with females more affected by the calorie information than males (β=0·37, P<0·001).
Findings support the role menu labelling can play in encouraging a healthier lifestyle for college students. College students who are Generation Y desire healthier menu options and accept nutritional labels on restaurant menus as a way to easily and expediently obtain nutrition information.
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