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Americans consume more meals away from home at fast-food and dine-in restaurants. The restaurant foods are notorious for their energy density and large portion sizes. The objective of our study was to determine whether or not the addition of calorie information to a restaurant menu affects the calorie content of meals ordered by college students. Study participants were selected from a random sample of 1,025 undergraduate students (≥ 18 years old). Data analyses included descriptive statistics and both paired-samples and independent-samples t-tests. Our data analysis found a significant difference between the number of calories chosen from the first menu (without calorie labels) versus the second menu (with calorie labels) (p=0.001, 2-tailed). Analysis also showed that there was no significant difference in calories ordered from the first menu versus the second menu for those who had taken a
college-level nutrition class and those who had not (p=0.051, 2-tailed). Our findings suggest that menu calorie labels can positively affect college students’ meal selections making them lower in calories; however, no particular group of students was more likely than any other to change their menu selections after seeing the calorie labels. Further research is needed to determine if use of calorie labels will decrease the number of calories ordered at fast-food and dine-in restaurants among other populations.
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