Youth report use of calorie information in fast food restaurants
A new CDC study, published online today in the Journal of Public Health, has found that of young people who visited fast food or chain restaurants in 2010, girls and youth who were obese were more likely to use calorie information (or menu labeling) given in the restaurants to inform their food choices. Girls were 80 percent more likely to use calorie information when available than boys. Obese youth were 70 percent more likely to use calorie information when available than those who were at a healthy weight.
The study also found that young people who ate less frequently at fast food or chain restaurants (once a week or less) were 50 percent more likely to use the calorie information when available than young people who ate more frequently at these places (two or more times each week).
This research is based on data from the 2010 YouthStyles and HealthStyles mail surveys. The study sample consisted of 721 youth, ages 9 to 18 years. The study excluded youth who never eat at fast food or chain restaurants (about 8 percent) or who said they never noticed calorie information (about 20 percent).
Menu labeling requirements in restaurants can help consumers to make informed food choices. Federal law requires restaurants with at least 20 locations nationally to list calorie information next to menu items on menus or menu boards. This law includes the prominent placement of a statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake on the menu. While national menu labeling has not been implemented, some fast food and chain restaurants have begun to post this information voluntarily.