Start Date: December 2008

ID #: 65634

Principal Investigator: Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH

Organization: New York University School of Medicine

Funding Round: Rapid-Response Round 1


In New York City, a new policy now being implemented mandates city-wide calorie labeling posted on the menu boards of all fast-food restaurants. In assessing this policy, this study has two specific aims: (1) to determine the influence of such calorie labeling on individual food choice and (2) to establish why this calorie labeling does or does not influence food choice. Data will be evaluated as part of a pre-post study design with a control city (Newark, NJ). Approximately one month before and after labeling was introduced, data were collected via an on-the-ground receipt collection and survey outside of fast-food restaurants, resulting in approximately 1,400 total responses. The primary outcome of interest in this research is the change in calories consumed; also important is the proportion of individuals in the sample who report that they observed and utilized the calorie labels. In addition to the common dissemination channels of academic papers and conferences, investigators will also reach out to policymakers in the more than 20 cities and states are actively considering or have passed this initiative into law.

Related Research

October 2011

Consumer Estimation of Recommended and Actual Calories at Fast Food Restaurants

This paper examines the assumptions that consumers know how many calories they should consume throughout the course of a day and customers improperly estimate the number of calories in their fast food order. It then examines whether mandatory menu labeling influences either of these assumptions. Based on receipt and survey data collected from consumers outside More

May 2011

Consumer Purchasing Patterns in Response to Calorie Labeling Legislation in New York City

This paper examines whether menu labeling in New York City (NYC) chain restaurants affects food purchases or frequency of fast food consumption by comparing a sample of lower-income adults in NYC to a similar sample in Newark, NJ (which did not introduce labeling). The study showed mixed findings. Researchers found no significant differences in food More

April 2011

Child and Adolescent Fast-Food Choice and the Influence of Calorie Labeling: A Natural Experiment

This article examines children’s and adolescents’ fast-food choices and the influence of calorie labels on adolescent and parent food choice in lower-income communities in New York City (NYC) and Newark, New Jersey (comparison city) before and after mandatory menu labeling began in NYC. Researchers found no statistically significant differences in calories purchased before and after More

November 2009

Calorie Labeling and Food Choices: A First Look at the Effects on Low-Income People in New York City

This paper assesses the effect of mandated calorie labeling on fast food choices in New York City. A sample of more than 1,000 adults at fast-food restaurants in low-income, minority communities in New York was compared with a sample in Newark, New Jersey, which did not have a labeling mandate. The researchers found that while More