Two studies examined the effect of nutritional information on restaurant menus on ordering behavior, with contradictory results. With the hypothesis that participants given health information would select items with fewer calories than those given no health information, participants (n= 54) were first given one of three different menus: one containing no nutritional information, a second disclosing calories, and a third containing a simplified traffic light system indicating the healthiness of each item. Participants then “ordered dinner” followed by demographic surveys. Women and participants with a lower BMI ordered fewer calories when given health information, while men and participants with higher BMI ordered more calories when given health information. The second study (n=89) repeated the ordering exercise from the first, followed by a questionnaire testing the hypothesis that participants that were more interested in tasty foods over healthy foods would order more calories when health information was present. Though the BMI effect was not replicated, the gender trend remained when taking into account health and taste preferences. Further research needs to be conducted to determine the implications and reasons for these results, and their potential impact on public health as calories are mandated on restaurant menus nationally.
Smith, Kismet, "Health and Policy: The Impact of Health Information on Restaurant Menus on Ordering Behavior" (2011). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 12.