The present study examined the energy (kilojoule) content of Australian fast-food menu items over seven years, before and after introduction of menu board labelling, to determine the impact of the introduction of the legislation.
Analysis of the median energy contents per serving and per 100g of fast-food menu items. Change in energy content of menu items across the years surveyed and differences in energy content of standard and limited-time only menu items were analysed.
Five of Australia’s largest fast food chains: Hungry Jack’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Oporto and Red Rooster.
All standard and limited-time only menu items available at each fast-food chain, collected annually for seven years, 2009–2015.
Although some fast-food chains/menu item categories had significant increases in the energy contents of their menus at some time points during the 7-year period, overall there were no significant or systematic decreases in energy following the introduction of menu labelling (P=0·19 by +17 kJ/100 g, P=0·83 by +8 kJ/serving). Limited-time only items were significantly higher in median energy content per 100 g than standard menu items (+74 kJ/100 g, P=0·002).
While reformulation across the entire Australian fast-food supply has the potential to positively influence population nutrient intake, the introduction of menu labelling legislation in New South Wales, Australia did not lead to reduced energy contents across the five fast-food chains. To encourage widespread reformulation by the fast-food industry and enhance the impact of labelling legislation, the government should work with industry to set targets for reformulation of nutrient content.
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