University at Albany

Menu Labeling Evaluation Project

CHSR worked with Health Research, Inc. to evaluate the impact of calorie postings and a media campaign on customer's knowledge, attitudes, and purchasing behavior in select New York State counties.

Four counties in New York State (not including New York City) in various stages of implementing policies that require chain restaurants to post calorie counts of the food they serve were selected for this study. To amplify the impact of the calorie postings, the New York State Department of Health launched a public awareness media campaign. The campaign ran in all four counties and focused on fast food restaurants. The calorie postings and public awareness campaign were expected to lead customers to purchase food with fewer calories and to contribute to a decrease in the prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Evaluation & Research

A three-group quasi-experimental design was used to answer questions about the impact of the media campaign and calorie posting on customers' knowledge, attitudes, and purchasing behavior. The design included two counties in which calorie posting was already implemented and two where implementation was planned to occur during the course of the evaluation; one county without a mandate to calorie post served as a control group. Two waves of data collection were conducted, one in the fall of 2010 and one in the spring of 2011. More than 2,300 customer surveys and receipts were collected and analyzed. The three-group quasi-experimental design showed the extent of change in the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of chain restaurant customers after they were exposed to the calorie postings and the media campaign. CHSR is currently conducting a third wave of data collection, gathering receipts and interviewing 500 customers at specified restaurant locations to evaluate the impact of a media campaign in Albany and Schenectady counties.

Contact: Corinne Noble