Public Health Nutrition

Interventions

Knowledge, attitudes and potential response to menu labelling in an urban public health clinic population

Jennifer Pirona1, Lisa V Smitha1a3, Paul Simona2a3, Patricia L Cummingsa4 and Tony Kuoa4a5 c1

a1 Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation (SEE), Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA

a2 Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA

a3 UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA

a4 Office of Senior Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 3530 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA

a5 Department of Family Medicine, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Abstract

Objective The present study examines the receptivity to and potential effects of menu labelling on food choices of low-income and minority individuals – a group often at disproportionate risk for preventable, lifestyle-related health conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes and CVD).

Design We conducted a cross-sectional survey to examine the knowledge, attitudes and potential response to menu labelling in an urban public health clinic population.

Setting United States.

Subjects A total of 639 clinic patients were recruited in the waiting rooms of six, large public health centres in Los Angeles County (2007–2008). These centres provide services to a largely uninsured or under-insured, low-income, Latino and African-American population.

Results Among those approached and who met eligibility criteria, 88 % completed the survey. Of the 639 respondents, 55 % were overweight or obese based on self-reported heights and weights; 74 % reported visiting a fast food restaurant at least once in the past year, including 22 % at least once a week; 93 % thought that calorie information was ‘important’; and 86 % thought that restaurants should be required to post calorie information on their menu boards. In multivariate analyses, respondents who were obese, female, Latino and supportive of calorie postings were more likely than others to report that they would choose food and beverages with lower calories as a result of menu labelling.

Conclusions These findings suggest that clinic patients are receptive to this population-based strategy and that they would be inclined to change their food selections in response to menu labelling.

(Received March 24 2009)

(Accepted July 17 2009)

(Online publication August 26 2009)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email tkuo@ph.lacounty.gov

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