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Appetite. 2012 Dec;59(3):770-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.08.011. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

A test of different menu labeling presentations.

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Marketing Department, Duke University Fuqua School of Business, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Chain restaurants will soon need to disclose calorie information on menus, but research on the impact of calorie labels on food choices is mixed. This study tested whether calorie information presented in different formats influenced calories ordered and perceived restaurant healthfulness. Participants in an online survey were randomly assigned to a menu with either (1) no calorie labels (No Calories); (2) calorie labels (Calories); (3) calorie labels ordered from low to high calories (Rank-Ordered Calories); or (4) calorie labels ordered from low to high calories that also had red/green circles indicating higher and lower calorie choices (Colored Calories). Participants ordered items for dinner, estimated calories ordered, and rated restaurant healthfulness. Participants in the Rank-Ordered Calories condition and those in the Colored Calories condition ordered fewer calories than the No Calories group. There was no significant difference in calories ordered between the Calories and No Calories groups. Participants in each calorie label condition were significantly more accurate in estimating calories ordered compared to the No Calories group. Those in the Colored Calories group perceived the restaurant as healthier. The results suggest that presenting calorie information in the modified Rank-Ordered or Colored Calories formats may increase menu labeling effectiveness.

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