A mandate soon to be enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), may be an ineffective way to facilitate a healthier America. A recent study shows that nutritional labels have no effect on consumer food choices in fast food restaurants.
According to a recent study conducted by Duke University and the National University of Singapore, suggests that detailed labeling on fast food menu had no quantifiable effects on what they chose to eat. The study was based off information collected from Taco Time in King County, Washington.
In January 2009, King County enforced detailed nutritional labeling by all restaurant chains with at least 15 locations. According to the law, restaurants are required to provide calorie count information at the point of sale, rather than upon request. The purpose of enacting the law was to curb obesity, a health issue across the nation. However, the results of the study have deemed the law ineffective.
Researchers revealed that purchasing decisions were nearly identical at chains with nutritional information posted to purchasing decisions at locations with no nutritional information posted. Ultimately, the total amount of sales and the average number of calories per transaction were about the same.
Eric Finkelstein, Ph.D professor of health services at Duke-NUS and lead author on the study said, “Given the results of prior studies, we had expected the results to be small, but we were surprised that we could not detect even the slightest hint of changes in purchasing behavior as a result of the legislation”.
The Food and Drug Administration, under the healthcare reform law, plans to enact a similar type law affecting restaurant chains with 20 or more locations. However, results from the study suggest that labeling alone is not enough to deter consumers from fatty and unhealthy food choices.