Corina Noble, CHSR Research Support Specialist, to be published in the Journal for Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Ian Brissette, Ann Lowenfels, Corina Noble, & Deborah Spicer (Forthcoming). Predictors of total calories purchased at fast-food restaurants: Restaurant characteristics, calorie consciousness and use of calorie information.

Abstract

Objective
To examine purchase patterns at fast food restaurants and their relation to restaurant characteristics, customer characteristics and use of calorie information.

Design
Cross-sectional survey.

Setting
Fast-food restaurants in New York State.

Participants
Adult fast-food restaurant customers (n = 1,094).

Variables Measured
Restaurant characteristics (fast food chain type, presence of calorie labels, poverty of location), participant characteristics (demographics, calorie knowledge, awareness and use) and customer purchasing patterns (ordering low calorie or no beverage, small or no fries, or fewer than three items) were used as predictors of total calories purchased.

Analysis
Multiple regression.

Results
In a regression model including restaurant and customer characteristics, fast food chain, customer age, sex, calorie use and calorie awareness were independently associated with total calories purchased (all P < .05, model R2 = .19). When three purchasing patterns were added to the model, calorie use (P = .005), but not calorie awareness, remained associated with total calories purchased. The three purchase patterns collectively accounted for the majority of variance in calorie totals (model R2 = .40).

Conclusions and Implications
Promoting use of calorie information, purchase strategies and calorie awareness represent complementary ways to support lower calorie choices at fast food chains.