Study finds calorie labels don't affect eating habits at restaurants

Feb 07, 2011

Customers in a Mexican fast food restaurant in Washington did not take calorie content into consideration when ordering, even though it was listed on the menu.

Knowing how many calories a certain fast-food item contains will not stop a consumer from eating it, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Researchers from Duke University conducted a study of a Mexican fast food restaurant in King County, Washington. The significance of this Seattle-area location is that in January 2009, county officials imposed a law that calorie content for food must be posted on display in restaurants. Their hope was that if consumers are aware of what they are eating, they may be inclined to choose healthier foods that the restaurant offers.

However, the results showed that this is not the case. When researchers compared the purchases that consumers made in the King county location with those made in other locations of the same fast food restaurant in Washington, "no impact of the regulation on purchasing behavior was found."

Since the study found this method to be ineffective, the county will likely have to find other methods to further their "comprehensive effort to stem the rise in obesity," as the article calls it.

Obesity has been linked to many harmful illnesses and the risk of death associated with the condition may result in difficulty obtaining health and life insurance policies.  

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