Skip to main content

Helping consumers make a more conscious nutritional choice: acceptability of nutrition information at a cafeteria

  • Giovanna Turconi (a1), Rosella Bazzano (a1), Carla Roggi (a1) and Hellas Cena (a1)

A few studies link out-of-home eating to higher energy consumption, overweight and obesity in both adults and children. The present study was undertaken to investigate the nutritional value of meals available in a university cafeteria, in order to develop a target nutritional tool to help consumers make a more conscious nutritional choice.


A cross-sectional study.


In a university cafeteria in Pavia, northern Italy, the recipes and ingredients of each meal served during the whole year were obtained from the cooks. Energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre contents were computed for each meal standardized portion. Thirteen pyramid figures, subdivided into three coloured levels, were used to depict the energy and nutrient content of each meal.


Four hundred randomly selected customers were interviewed on the cafeteria nutritional proposal.


Foods available in the cafeteria consisted of 216 items and were distributed in the pyramids according to their energy content: the lowest ones at the bottom (green level) and the highest ones at the top (red level), passing through an orange level in the middle. Energy values ranged from 460 kJ (110 kcal) for a portion of dressed vegetables to 5021 kJ (1200 kcal) for a pizza. The depicted pyramids were displayed in the cafeteria, so that customers could choose their meal according to its nutritional value. The meals’ nutritional content information was perceived very helpful for customers’ nutritional choices.


Availability of nutrition information in the cafeteria was well accepted by the customers who could plan their meals according to a more balanced diet.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Helping consumers make a more conscious nutritional choice: acceptability of nutrition information at a cafeteria
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Helping consumers make a more conscious nutritional choice: acceptability of nutrition information at a cafeteria
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Helping consumers make a more conscious nutritional choice: acceptability of nutrition information at a cafeteria
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email
Hide All
1. Orfanos P, Naska A, Trichopoulos D et al. (2007) Eating out of home and its correlates in 10 European countries. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Public Health Nutr 10, 15151525.
2. Kearney JM, Hulshof KF & Gibney MJ (2001) Eating patterns – temporal distribution, converging and diverging foods, meals eaten inside and outside of the home – implications for developing FBDG. Public Health Nutr 4, 693698.
3. Guthrie JF, Lin BH & Frazao E (2002) Role of food prepared away from home in the American diet, 1977–78 versus 1994–96: changes and consequences. J Nutr Educ Behav 34, 140150.
4. Lachat CK, Huybregts LF, Roberfroid DA et al. (2009) Nutritional profile of foods offered and consumed in a Belgian university canteen. Public Health Nutr 12, 122128.
5. Nago ES, Lachat CK, Huybregts L et al. (2010) Food, energy and macronutrient contribution of out-of-home foods in school-going adolescents in Cotonou, Benin. Br J Nutr 103, 281288.
6. McCrory MA, Fuss PJ, Hays NP et al. (1999) Overeating in America: association between restaurant food consumption and body fatness in healthy adult men and women ages 19 to 80. Obes Res 7, 564571.
7. Kant AK & Graubard BI (2004) Eating out in America, 1987–2000: trends and nutritional correlates. Prev Med 38, 243249.
8. Bowman SA, Gortmaker SL, Ebbeling CB et al. (2004) Effects of fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a national household survey. Pediatrics 113, 112118.
9. Thompson OM, Ballew C, Resnicow K et al. (2004) Food purchased away from home as a predictor of change in BMI Z-score among girls. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 28, 282289.
10. Zoumas-Morse C, Rock CL, Sobo EJ et al. (2001) Children's patterns of macronutrient intake and associations with restaurant and home eating. J Am Diet Assoc 101, 923925.
11. Nielsen SJ, Siega-Riz AM & Popkin BM (2002) Trends in energy intake in US between 1977 and 1996: similar shifts seen across age groups. Obes Res 10, 370378.
12. Jabs J & Devine CM (2006) Time scarcity and food choices: an overview. Appetite 47, 196204.
13. Roos E, Sarlio-Lähteenkorva S & Lallukka T (2004) Having lunch at a staff canteen is associated with recommended food habits. Public Health Nutr 7, 5361.
14. Burns C, Jackson M, Gibbons C et al. (2002) Foods prepared outside the home: association with selected nutrients and body mass index in adult Australians. Public Health Nutr 5, 441448.
15. McCrory MA, Fuss PJ, Saltzman E et al. (2002) Dietary determinants of energy intake and weight regulation in healthy adults. J Nutr 130, 2S Suppl., 276S279S.
16. Prentice AM & Jebb SA (2003) Fast foods, energy density and obesity: a possible mechanistic link. Obes Rev 4, 187194.
17. Satia JA, Galanko JA & Siega-Riz AM (2004) Eating at fast-food restaurants is associated with dietary intake, demographic, psychosocial and behavioural factors among African Americans in North Carolina. Public Health Nutr 7, 10891096.
18. Nielsen SJ & Popkin BM (2003) Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977–1998. JAMA 289, 450453.
19. World Health Organization (2007) Proposed Second WHO European Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy 2007–2012. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; available at
20. The Keystone Center (2006) The Keystone Forum on Away-from-Home Foods: Opportunities for Preventing Weight Gain and Obesity. Washington, DC: The Keystone Center; available at
21. Bell AC & Swinburn BA (2004) What are the key food groups to target for preventing obesity and improving nutrition in schools? Eur J Clin Nutr 58, 258263.
22. Utter J, Scragg R, Schaaf D et al. (2008) Relationships between frequency of family meals, BMI and nutritional aspects of the home food environment among New Zealand adolescents. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 23, 5058.
23. López-Frías M, Nestares T, Iañez I et al. (2005) Nutrient intake adequacy in schoolchildren from a Mediterranean area (southern Spain). Influence of the use of the school canteen. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 75, 312319.
24. Prell HC, Berg MC, Jonsson LM et al. (2005) A school-based intervention to promote dietary change. J Adolesc Health 36, 529534.
25. Salvini S, Parpinel M, Gnagnarella P et al. (2008) Banca dati di composizione degli alimenti per studi epidemiologici in Italia. Milan: Istituto Europeo di Oncologia.
26. World Health Organization (1985) Energy and Protein Requirements, Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Meeting. WHO Technical Report Series no. 724. Geneva: WHO.
27. Società Italiana di Nutrizione Umana (1996) Standard Quantitativi delle porzioni. In Livelli di assunzione raccomandati di energia e nutrienti per la popolazione Italiana – LARN, revisione 1996. Rome: SINU.
28. Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (2003) Linee Guida per una Sana Alimentazione Italiana, revisione 2003. (accessed March 2011).
29. Steenhuis IH, Leeuwis FH & Vermeer WM (2010) Small, medium, large or supersize: trends in food portion sizes in The Netherlands. Public Health Nutr 13, 852857.
30. Diliberti N, Bordi PL, Conklin MT et al. (2004) Increased portion size leads to increased energy intake in a restaurant meal. Obes Res 12, 562568.
31. Ledikwe JH, Ello-Martin JA & Rolls BJ (2005) Portion sizes and the obesity epidemic. J Nutr 135, 905909.
32. Levitsky DA & Youn T (2004) The more foods young adults are served, the more they overeat. J Nutr 134, 25462549.
33. Rolls BJ, Morris EL & Roe LS (2002) Portion size of food affects energy intake in normal-weight and overweight men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 76, 12071213.
34. Ministero della Salute (2007) Sovrappeso ed obesità in Italia. Le dimensioni del problema, Dicembre 2007. (accessed March 2011).
35. Wootan MG & Osborn M (2006) Availability of nutrition information from chain restaurants in the United States. Am J Prev Med 30, 266268.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 96 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 173 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.