Posting calories on menus may not prompt long-term dietary changes

Adding calorie counts to chain restaurants’ menus did not have a sustained effect on customers’ purchasing habits, according to a new study.

Researchers found that fast-food chain customers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas ordered around 60 calories, or about 4%, fewer calories per transaction in the weeks following the enactment of a 2018 FDA law mandating calorie labeling. After one year, customers purchased only 23 fewer calories per transaction.

“Our findings suggest that calorie labeling may be most effective as a short-term strategy for reducing calorie purchases, but that other nutrition interventions may be necessary for long-term positive dietary changes in these settings,” said Joshua Petimar, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a November 2 Salon article.

Read the Salon article: Calorie counts added to fast-food menus lead to modest or no changes: study