A recent study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and reported by USA Today reveals that more information may be better when it comes to menu labeling. The Rudd Center study involved individuals presented with several differently labeled dinner menus and revealed that one indeed decreased consumers' caloric intake.
The 303 diners in the study were presented with three menus: an unlabeled one, a menu with nutritional information, and a third menu that contained both nutritional information and the USDA's recommended daily adult intake of 2,000 calories. The dining group receiving the last menu consumed significantly fewer calories at dinner and the rest of the night than the other two groups: 1380, calories compared with the others' 1630.
The report comes on the heels of several conflicting stories this year on diners' eating habits as relating to displayed nutrition counts. Originally, a collaborative New York University and Yale study from last October in poor New York and New Jersey neighborhoods concluded that labeling had, at best, no statistically significant effect on orders—some quick service restaurant consumers claimed to have ordered healthier, but their caloric intake was at best the same as before.
A broader New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) study released later that month, however, showed that menu labeling initiatives started in March 2008 did indeed result in an average of 106 less calories consumed at involved quick service restaurants.
*Additional reporting by Christa Hoyland