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Calorie labeling has no effect on teenagers' or parents' food purchases
Date:2/15/2011

(New York, NY) February 15, 2011 A new study led by an NYU School of Medicine investigator and published in the February 15, 2011, Advance Online Publication, International Journal of Obesity, challenges the idea that calorie labeling has an effect on the purchasing behavior of teenagers or what parents purchase for their children. Teens appear to notice the calorie information at the same rate as adults, however they respond at a lower rate. The conclusions are similar to a previous study about adult eating behavior by Dr. Brian Elbel, assistant professor and colleagues, which showed that although labels did increase awareness of calories, they did not alter food choices.

Obesity in the United States is an enormous public health problem and children and teenagers are increasingly becoming overweight or obese. Calorie labeling is the first significant policy effort to address obesity that has been implemented. Calorie menu labeling is now mandated to begin soon across the nation by the new health reform law called the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010" (ACA). Among the claims supporting this policy is that menu labeling will help people make better informed and healthier food choices.

In 2008, New York became the first city in the nation to enforce mandatory calorie labeling in fast-food restaurants throughout the five boroughs. It is the first attempt of its kind to influence the obesity epidemic by altering the environment in which individuals are actually making their food choices. The goal is to encourage consumers to think twice before purchasing high calorie foods from restaurants, and to increase awareness of the calorie contents of the food they were purchasing.

In the new study, Dr. Elbel and his colleagues gathered receipts and surveys from 427 parents and teenagers at fast-food restaurants both before and after mandatory labeling began in July 2008. They focused on lower income communities i
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Contact: Lorinda Klein
lorindaann.klein@nyumc.org
212-404-3533
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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