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Am J Prev Med. 1987 May-Jun;3(3):171-7.

Promoting the selection of healthy food through menu item description in a family-style restaurant.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Providence College, Rhode Island.


We describe an attempt to influence the selection of menu items in a family-style restaurant. Three different messages, varying in content and emphasis, were used to promote one food special each intervention day. One message emphasized that the specials were particularly healthful, being relatively low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. A second message stressed flavor and added that the choice was healthful. A third, nonspecific message made no mention of taste or health factors, but simply noted that there was a daily special. Results indicated that restaurant patrons selected healthful specials when the message noted that the choice was healthful but emphasized flavor. Patrons were apparently more open to information about the palatability of the food than its healthfulness per se. These results have implications for point-of-purchase health promotion efforts in general, especially those involving food-labeling programs in restaurants and grocery stores.

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