Restaurants are key venues for reducing sodium intake in the United States but little is known about consumer perceptions of sodium in restaurant foods. This study aimed to fill this gap by examining the accuracy of consumer estimates of sodium in restaurant meals. In 2013 and 2014, meal receipts and questionnaires were collected from adults and adolescents dining at six restaurant chains in four New England cities. The sample included 993 adults and 794 adolescents. Diners were asked to estimate the amount of sodium in the meal they had just purchased. Mean (SD) actual sodium content of meals was 1292 mg (970) for adults and 1128 mg (891) for adolescents. One-quarter of diners were unable or unwilling to provide estimates of the sodium content of their meals. Of those who provided estimates, 90 percent of adults and 88 percent of adolescents underestimated sodium in their meals, with adults underestimating sodium by a mean (SD) of 1013 mg (1,055) and adolescents underestimating by 876 mg (1,021). Respondents underestimated sodium content more for meals with greater sodium content. The study also found significant differences in sodium estimation by chain. Education about sodium at point-of-purchase, such as provision of sodium information on restaurant menu boards, may help correct consumer underestimation, particularly for meals of high sodium content.
Consumer Underestimation of Sodium in Fast Food Restaurant Meals: Results From a Cross-Sectional Observational Study
Little is known about how calorie menu labeling in restaurants is likely to affect children and adolescents. Thus, the specific aims of this study are to: 1) determine the extent to which calorie menu labeling affects school-age children’s and adolescents’ eating behaviors, nutritional knowledge, and awareness and use of calorie … More
Assessing Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program families' online food purchasing behaviors to inform policies targeting expansion of SNAP benefits
Online grocery services may be a promising strategy to increase food access by creating systems that increase the self-reliance of communities to meet their food needs; however, there may be unintended consequences that should be considered. Despite the potential to increase healthier choices, individuals may purchase more soft drinks and … More
Point-of-sale nutrition information has been adopted by numerous grocery stores to respond to the demand for easy-to-understand nutrition labeling by consumers. Although there is conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of providing nutrition information, previous research indicates simplified shelf nutrition labels may lead to healthier choices. However, these studies have not … More