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
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
This study seeks to develop and test the impact of “nudges” in an online grocery store on purchases of fruit drinks and healthier substitutes among a sample of low-income parents of children ages 1-5 years. The goal of this project is to reduce fruit drink intake among low-income children, including … More
Changes in Beverage Availability and Targeted Marketing Associated with the Philadelphia Beverage Tax
The goal of this study is to provide much needed scientific evidence about whether the Philadelphia beverage tax is associate with changes in beverage availability and targeted marketing, with a focus on drinks commonly consumed by children ages 0-5 and Black and Latinx households with young children. Specific aims include: … More