The present study examines the receptivity to and potential effects of menu labelling on food choices of low-income and minority individuals – a group often at disproportionate risk for preventable, lifestyle-related health conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes and CVD).
We conducted a cross-sectional survey to examine the knowledge, attitudes and potential response to menu labelling in an urban public health clinic population.
A total of 639 clinic patients were recruited in the waiting rooms of six, large public health centres in Los Angeles County (2007–2008). These centres provide services to a largely uninsured or under-insured, low-income, Latino and African-American population.
Among those approached and who met eligibility criteria, 88 % completed the survey. Of the 639 respondents, 55 % were overweight or obese based on self-reported heights and weights; 74 % reported visiting a fast food restaurant at least once in the past year, including 22 % at least once a week; 93 % thought that calorie information was ‘important’; and 86 % thought that restaurants should be required to post calorie information on their menu boards. In multivariate analyses, respondents who were obese, female, Latino and supportive of calorie postings were more likely than others to report that they would choose food and beverages with lower calories as a result of menu labelling.
These findings suggest that clinic patients are receptive to this population-based strategy and that they would be inclined to change their food selections in response to menu labelling.
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