Who reports noticing and using calorie information posted on fast food restaurant menus?
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Objective: Identify consumer characteristics that predict seeing and using calorie information on fast food menu boards.
Methods: Two separate data collection methods were used in Philadelphia during June 2010, several weeks after calorie labeling legislation went into effect: (1) point-of-purchase survey and receipt collection conducted outside fast food restaurants (N=669) and (2) a random digit dial telephone survey (N=702). Logistic regressions were used to predict the odds of reporting seeing, and of reporting seeing and being influenced by posted calorie information.
Results: Of the 35.1% of point-of-purchase and 65.7% of telephone survey respondents who reported seeing posted calorie information, 11.8% and 41.7%, respectively, reported that the labels influenced their purchasing decisions; of those influenced, 8.4% and 17% reported they were influenced in a healthful direction. BMI, education, income, gender, consumer preferences, restaurant chain, and frequency of visiting fast food restaurants were associated with heterogeneity in the likelihood of reporting seeing and reporting seeing and using calorie labels.
Conclusion: Demographic characteristics and consumer preferences are important determinants in the use of posted calorie information. Future work should consider the types of consumers this information is intended for, and how to effectively reach them.