By Megan Kian
In 2008, it was mandated that all fast-food restaurants in any borough in New York provide calorie labeling for the foods available for purchase. The point of calorie labeling was to make consumers think twice before making food choices. But has calorie labeling succeeded in creating a more health conscious society? Results of a new study from the NYU School of Medicine and Wagner School of Public Service shows that the calorie postings have not impacted the behavior of teenagers or their parents who come from low-income households. (A previous study by the same researcher showed similar conclusions for adult behavior.)
Although teens and their parents were aware of the calorie labels, they did not change their food orders and consumption. On average, teens purchased meals that contained about 725 calories and parents purchased meals that contained about 600 calories for their children. To the teens in the study, taste, price, and convenience were more important than calories when it came to choosing what to eat.
One reason that the calorie labels had no impact on teenagers and their parents may be that they don’t know how many calories they should actually be consuming per day. Once again this is an indication that nutrition education is needed to help inform the public how to make healthier food choices.
Has calorie labeling influenced your food choices?