Myth: Mandatory Nutritional Information on Restaurant Menus Will Reduce Obesity
"What we did in making nutrition labeling mandatory did not help obesity. In fact, some people would say it hurt ... The first thing we notice is this contradiction about the fact that we had mandatory nutrition labeling for ten years, and the situation got steadily worse during that time."
-Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford at the World Obesity Congress and Expo, 2004
"Recent consumer choice studies suggest that the effect of nutritional information on diet in [restaurant] settings may be modest. For example, a Pennsylvania State University study of food intake among normal-weight women found that explaining the concept of energy density (number of calories per gram of food) and providing nutrition information on labels during meals in a laboratory setting had no impact on subjects' energy intakes. A restaurant study in England found that providing nutrition information had no effect on overall energy and fat intake of patrons. In fact, the presence of 'lower-fat' information was associated with fewer restaurant patrons' selecting the target dish. Another study in an Army cafeteria found no significant difference between sales before and after nutrition labeling for either average "healthy" (labeled, containing less than 15 grams of fat and 100 milligrams of cholesterol per serving) entr�e sales or the proportion of healthy entr�es to total entr�e sales."
-Amber Waves, 2005
"The pattern of food intake across the different levels of energy density was similar when nutritional information was provided and when it was not. In this population, explaining the concept of energy density and providing nutritional information during meals had no overall impact on the weight of food consumed."
"The presence of factual 'lower fat' information did not substantially affect expectations of sensory quality and acceptance, or overall energy and fat intake, though it was associated with a trend toward a decreased proportion of restaurant patrons selecting the target dish."
-Public Health Nutrition, 1999
"A recent laboratory study of food intake among normal-weight women found that explaining the concept of energy density and providing nutrition information on labels during meals had no impact on energy intake. Similarly, a controlled experiment in a restaurant setting in England found that provision of nutrition information had no effect on overall energy and fat intake."
-American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2004