Warning labels on restaurant menus reduced likelihood consumers would order high-sugar foods
Pattern of warning labels used within the examine. Credit score: UC Davis researchers

Added-sugar warning labels decreased the probability that customers would order objects containing excessive quantities of added sugar in a web-based experiment led by College of California, Davis researchers. Menu labels will help inform customers in regards to the surprisingly excessive quantity of added sugar in even the smallest sizes of soda or in surprising objects like salad dressings and sauces.

In a , researchers discovered that warning labels decreased by 2.2% the chance of ordering a high-added-sugar merchandise. Nevertheless, solely 21% of the customers uncovered to the added-sugar warning labels seen them. Amongst those that seen the labels, there was a discount of 4.9 grams of added sugar ordered, in comparison with the management group.

“Given the frequency of restaurant meals consumption, these modest results may result in significant modifications in sugar consumption on the , and the labels ought to encourage eating places to scale back the added-sugar content material of their menus,” mentioned Jennifer Falbe, a researcher within the Division of Human Ecology and lead writer. Notably, it’s estimated that 21% of energy consumed in the US come from eating places.

Nevertheless, given that the majority individuals didn’t discover the added-sugar labels, Falbe added, “our findings additionally point out that menu labels needs to be designed for greater visibility.”

First take a look at behavioral outcomes

The examine, revealed on-line this week within the American Journal of Preventive Medication, checked out folks’s conduct as they simulated ordering from menus for and full-service chain eating places. Co-authors embrace researchers from different universities and the Middle for Science within the Public Curiosity.

Falbe mentioned this examine is the primary to check a restaurant menu added-sugar warning label on behavioral outcomes. Within the examine, customers chosen menu objects they’d need to order for dinner from on-line menus that included frequent meals like hamburgers, salads, French fries, drinks (with sugar and sugar-free), sodas, cookies, sundaes and smoothies.

Greater than 15,000 individuals had been recruited to match the U.S. inhabitants by way of age, gender, race and ethnicity, and training. Half of them had been randomized to pick out from on-line menus with added-sugar warning labels whereas the opposite half chosen from menus with out added-sugar labels (the ). Within the intervention group, warning labels had been added to objects containing over 50% of the advisable every day restrict for added sugar. Researchers had been capable of report all individuals’ conduct as they simulated ordering dinner from these menus in 2021.

Main findings embrace:

  • Added-sugar warning labels decreased the probability that customers would order an merchandise excessive in added sugar.
  • The warning labels helped customers perceive whether or not had been excessive in added sugar.
  • A big majority (72%) of customers within the examine indicated that they supported a legislation requiring chain eating places to submit these warning labels on their menus.

Falbe and colleagues had carried out earlier research on creating such warning labels, together with one which designed added-sugar menu labels based mostly on the design of current sodium warning labels current on menus in New York and Philadelphia.

Whereas the US Meals and Drug Administration requires massive chain eating places to make some out there in eating places, there may be at the moment no requirement for added sugar to be publicly disclosed for restaurant meals, researchers mentioned.

“This hole in data leaves customers at nighttime about how a lot added sugar is contained within the meals and drinks that they eat,” mentioned DeAnna Nara, a senior coverage affiliate at Middle for Science within the Public Curiosity and co-author. “We all know that chain eating places serve up meals and drinks full of added sugars and are particularly laborious locations for customers to navigate and make wholesome decisions for themselves and their households, particularly these managing persistent illnesses.”

“Warning icons present simply interpretable data to and equip them with the data they should make knowledgeable choices,” mentioned Nara. “Additionally they have the potential to encourage eating places to rethink their recipes, spurring reformulation to chop again on added sugars.”

Co-authors of the examine embrace researchers from UC Davis, Harvard T.H. Chan College of Public Well being, Perelman College of Medication on the College of Pennsylvania, Middle for Science within the Public Curiosity in Washington D.C., and the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Extra data:
Jennifer Falbe et al, On-line RCT of Icon Added-Sugar Warning Labels for Restaurant Menus, American Journal of Preventive Medication (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2023.02.007

Warning labels on restaurant menus scale back probability customers order high-sugar meals, examine finds (2023, April 18)
retrieved 18 April 2023
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