Measuring the Impact of Menu Labeling in Schools on Student Food Choices
Point-of-purchase nutrition labeling policies are proposed as a mechanism to increase awareness of nutrient content, modify food selection decisions, reduce selections of energy dense foods and increase selections of nutrient dense foods. School meal programs offer an opportunity to extend these benefits to children, especially lower-income children, but there has been little research to support the efficacy of nutrition labeling in schools. This project will take advantage of the planned introduction of a new electronic nutrition labeling initiative in Northshore School District high schools in Washington state to measure the impact of calorie labeling independently and in combination with education about calories in health classes. This study will be a quasi-experimental longitudinal study to determine the behavioral and nutritional impact of the two-phase intervention. The aims are to: 1) determine if adding point-of-purchase calorie information to foods sold in high school cafeterias is associated with changes in total energy, energy density or nutrient density of student food choices; 2) examine the impact that education directed at informing high school students about the meaning of calories and individual caloric needs, in conjunction with calorie labeling, has on food choices in a high school cafeteria; and 3) explore how and why students use calorie information in school cafeterias.
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