The current limits of calorie labeling and the potential for population health impact

Andrew Breck, Tod Mijanovich, Beth C. Weitzman, Brian Elbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By mid-2018, federal policy will require chain restaurants with more than 20 U.S. locations to include calorie information on their menus. Despite high expectations that this policy would encourage healthier eating, most studies of local policies to mandate calorie labels have demonstrated little impact on consumer choice. In this article, the authors adapt Burton and Kees 's (2012) conceptual framework for eating behavior change to better understand the limited impact of these policies thus far. Using two surveys of fast-food consumers in Philadelphia, the authors estimate the percentage who might reasonably be expected to respond to calorie labels given the requirements of the Burton and Kees model. They find that as few as 8% of fast-food consumers meet all the model s requirements and, therefore, would be expected to change their eating behavior as a result of calorie information. The authors use the model and findings to consider how calorie-labeling policy could be improved for greater impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-235
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Policy and Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Calorie labeling
  • Menu labeling
  • Nutrition
  • Restaurant chain nutrition labels
  • U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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