By the year 2030, 50% of American adults could be obese. Increasingly, Americans are consuming more foods away from home and most of these foods are consumed in fast-food restaurants. Menu calorie labeling provides calorie information at the point of purchase in fast-food restaurants and is one strategy employed to promote lower calorie, healthier food choices. Initial studies of the impact of calorie labeling, however, sugges that posting calories may only affect calories purchased in a minority of consumers. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandates that calorie labeling be implemented nationally and fast-food restaurants throughout the U.S. will begin to post calorie information. With an overarching goal of improving the impact of calorie labeling policies;this proposal will develop and pilot test a brief intervention that is complementary to the posted calorie information, and will explore potential barriers to reducing calories among an urban clinic population. Our study aims are:
(Aim 1) To develop the Complementary Calorie Labeling (CCL) intervention, an individual single-session intervention that can be delivered in primary care settings. We will conduct semi-structured interviews among 40 overweight or obese participants to guide development of intervention components and materials.
(Aim 2) To conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial of the CCL intervention among 188 overweight or obese participants. We will compare the CCL intervention to a control group that receives an educational brochure about calories. Our primary outcome will be weekly calories purchased at fast-food restaurants as measured by fast-food receipts and food logs.
(Aim 3) To examine whether calorie knowledge, health literacy, numeracy, and motivation are barriers to using calorie information and whether these variables moderate intervention efficacy. The proposed study will be conducted in a primarily low-income, minority clinic population in the Bronx NYC. NYC was the first major city to implement calorie labeling. Preliminary data from NYC suggest that fast-food consumers in the Bronx may be less likely to reduce their calories purchased when calorie information is posted, compared to other consumers in NYC. Developing interventions that may improve the impact of calorie labeling policies within this population will have important implications as these policies are implemented in urban communities throughout the U.S.
Increased consumption of fast-food may be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. Posting calories on menus in fast-food restaurants is an important public health initiative and may help consumers to make lower calorie, healthier choices. This study will develop and test an intervention to improve the impact of calorie labeling policies. We will further examine potential barriers to using posted calorie information.