Effect of calories-only vs physical activity calorie expenditure labeling on lunch calories purchased in worksite cafeterias.
BACKGROUND: Calorie labeling on restaurant menus is a public health strategy to guide consumer ordering behaviors, but effects on calories purchased have been minimal. Displaying labels communicating the physical activity required to burn calories may be a more effective approach, but real-world comparisons are needed. METHODS: In a quasi-experimental study, we examined the effect of physical activity calorie expenditure (PACE) food labels compared to calorie-only labels on point-of-decision food purchasing in three worksite cafeterias in North Carolina. After a year of quarterly baseline data collection, one cafeteria prominently displayed PACE labels, and two cafeterias prominently displayed calorie-only labels. Calories from foods purchased in the cafeteria during lunch were assessed over 2 weeks every 3 months for 2 years by photographs of meals. We compared differences in purchased calorie estimates before and after the labeling intervention was introduced using longitudinal generalized linear mixed model regressions that included a random intercept for each participant. RESULTS: In unadjusted models comparing average meal calories after vs before labeling, participants exposed to PACE labels purchased 40.4 fewer calories (P = 0.002), and participants exposed to calorie-only labels purchased 38.2 fewer calories (P = 0.0002). The small difference of 2 fewer calories purchased among participants exposed to PACE labeling vs calorie-only labeling was not significant (P = 0.90). Models adjusting for age, sex, race, occupation, numeracy level, and health literacy level did not change estimates appreciably. CONCLUSION: In this workplace cafeteria setting, PACE labeling was no more effective than calorie-only labeling in reducing lunchtime calories purchased.
Viera, AJ; Gizlice, Z; Tuttle, L; Olsson, E; Gras-Najjar, J; Hales, D; Linnan, L; Lin, F-C; Noar, SM; Ammerman, A
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