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How state and local governments can address the obesity epidemic
Date:5/9/2013

levels of nutritional literacy."

The authors recommend presenting calorie information to consumers in the form of a physical activity equivalent, e.g., telling consumers the amount of running required to burn off a particular food or beverage. According to the authors, this approach has been shown to reduce calorie consumption and lead to healthier choices. A 2011 study led by Bleich and colleagues examined the impact of calorie information on beverage choices and found that consumers were half as likely to buy a sugary beverage when presented with caloric information in the form of a physical activity equivalent. Another recommendation is that restaurants change their menu default options such as replacing default fries and soda in a kid-friendly meal with apple slices and low fat milk. According to the authors, empirical research has shown that changing the default items by listing healthy choices on the front of a menu is significantly associated with the purchase of lower-calorie sandwiches, whereas simply listing the calories on a menu is not as effective. The authors call for state and local governments to craft innovative menu-labeling regulations that focus on smaller chain restaurants and build on the current scientific data.

"A state or local government could pass a menu-labeling regulation that requires restaurants with fewer than 20 locations to list their lowest calorie food items first to encourage the selection of healthier, lower calorie items," said Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH, co-author of the Perspective and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "As the Food and Drug Administration finalizes the federal menu-labeling regulations, which will include specific requirements for how calorie information is presented on menus and menu boards, it's important to consider the opportunities that remain for states and localities. Local governments are well positioned to augment the
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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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