U.S. law mandates that chain restaurants with 20 or more locations post calorie information on their menus to inform consumers and encourage healthy choices. This study aimed to better understand parents’ perceptions and use of calorie labeling and the types of messages that might increase use. Researchers conducted 10 focus groups (n = 58) and 20 shop-along interviews (n = 20) among primary caregivers of children ages 6-12 in Philadelphia. Focus group participants discussed their hypothetical orders and restaurant experiences when dining with their children, and shop-along participants verbalized their decision processes while ordering at a restaurant. Both groups gave feedback on 4 public service messages aimed to increase healthier ordering for children. All interviews were voice-recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis of transcripts revealed 5 key themes: (1) parents’ use of calorie labels; (2) differences across restaurant settings; (3) nonjudgmental information; (4) financial value and enjoyment of food; and (5) message preferences. These themes suggested that nonjudgmental, fact-based messages that highlight financial value, feelings of fullness, and easy meal component swaps without giving up the treat-like aspect of eating out may be particularly helpful for consumers.
A Qualitative Study of Parents With Children 6 to 12 Years Old: Use of Restaurant Calorie Labels to Inform the Development of a Messaging Campaign
Calorie labeling is now required on all large U.S. chain restaurant menus, but its influence on consumer behavior is mixed. This study examines whether different parent-targeted messages encourage parents to order lower-calorie meals for their children in a hypothetical online setting. An online RCT was conducted with diverse primary caregivers … More
Improving Menu Labeling by Restaurants to Better Guide Parents in Helping Their Children Make Healthy Food Selections
This study will develop and evaluate ways to increase the impact of restaurant menu labeling among parents buying food for their children to address concerns that restaurant calorie labeling laws have not been as influential as they could be. The goals of this project are to emplore how parents respond … More
Evaluating the implementation and impact of a healthier checkout programme at a regional convenience store chain
This study aimed to test the feasibility of implementing and evaluating a healthier checkout pilot study in a convenience store chain in New Hampshire. A quasi-experimental study was conducted comparing a 3-month ‘healthier checkouts’ intervention in ten convenience stores which stocked eight healthier items in the checkout space and ten … More