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Calorie estimation accuracy and menu labeling perceptions among individuals with and without binge eating and/or purging disorders

Abstract

Menu labeling is a public health policy that requires chain restaurants in the USA to post kilocalorie information on their menus to help consumers make informed choices. However, there is concern that such a policy might promote disordered eating. This web-based study compared individuals with self-reported binge eating disorder (N = 52), bulimia nervosa (N = 25), and purging disorder (N = 17) and those without eating disorders (No ED) (N = 277) on restaurant calorie information knowledge and perceptions of menu labeling legislation. On average, people answered 1.46 ± 1.08 questions correctly (out of 6) (25 %) on a calorie information quiz and 92 % of the sample was in favor of menu labeling. The findings did not differ based on eating disorder, dieting, or weight status, or race/ethnicity. The results indicated that people have difficulty estimating the calories in restaurant meals and individuals with and without eating disorders are largely in favor of menu labeling laws.

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Acknowledgments

Marney A. White is supported by National Institutes of Health Grant K23 DK071646, which provided funding for this study. The authors would like to thank Margo Wootan, D.Sc. and the Center for Science in the Public Interest for permission to use their restaurant calorie information quiz. The authors would also like to thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program for its financial support.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Contributors

C.A. Roberto originated the study idea and design, performed data analysis and led the writing. A.F. Haynos, M.B. Schwartz and K.D. Brownell helped interpret the results and provided critical feedback on drafts of the manuscript. M.A. White gave input on the study design, helped interpret the results and provided critical feedback on drafts of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Christina A. Roberto.

Appendix

Appendix

1*Denotes correct answer

  1. 1.

    At Denny’s, which breakfast item has the least number of calories?

    1. a.

      Ham & Cheddar Omelet (595 calories)

    2. *b.

      Country fried steak & eggs (464 calories)

    3. c.

      An order of French toast with syrup & margarine (3 slices) (1,000 calories)

    4. d.

      An order of pancakes (3) with syrup & margarine (650 calories)

  2. 2.

    Which sandwich from the restaurant Cosi has more than 700 calories?

    1. a.

      Turkey Rustica (619 calories)

    2. b.

      Tuscan Pesto Chicken (571 calories)

    3. c.

      Tandoori Chicken (633 calories)

    4. *d.

      Grilled Chicken T.B.M. (791 calories)

    5. e.

      Sesame Ginger Chicken (508 calories)

  3. 3.

    Which item at Dunkin’ Donuts has the fewest number of calories?

    1. a.

      Sesame bagel with cream cheese (570 calories)

    2. *b.

      2 Jelly filled donuts (420 calories)

    3. c.

      Banana walnut muffin (540 calories)

    4. d.

      A medium (24 oz.) strawberry banana smoothie (550 calories)

  4. 4.

    Which grande (16 oz.) Starbucks drink has the fewest calories?

    1. a.

      Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream (420–550 calories)

    2. b.

      Frappuccino Blended Crème (490–580 calories)

    3. c.

      Chai Tea Latte (290 calories)

    4. d.

      Caramel Macchiato (310 calories)

    5. *e.

      Cappuccino (even, if made with whole milk) (150 calories)

  5. 5.

    Which item at McDonald’s has the most calories?

    1. a.

      Big Mac (560 calories)

    2. b.

      2 Sausage McGriddles (840 calories)

    3. *c.

      Large chocolate shake (1,160 calories)

    4. d.

      4 Hamburgers (1,040 calories)

  6. 6.

    Which item at Chili’s Grill & Bar is <1,000 calories?

    1. a.

      Southwestern Cobb salad (1080 calories)

    2. *b.

      Chili’s Cheesesteak (880 calories)

    3. c.

      Honey–Chipotle ribs (1,270 calories)

    4. d.

      Fire Grilled Chicken Fajita Quesadilla (1,480)

    5. e.

      Chicken Ranch Sandwich (1,170)

  7. 7.

    Should your state require fast-food and other chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Starbucks Denny’s, Cosi and Chili’s to display the calorie content of their foods on menus and menu boards?

    1. a.

      Yes, I strongly support that

    2. b.

      Yes, I somewhat support that

    3. c.

      No, I somewhat oppose that

    4. d.

      No, I strongly oppose that

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Roberto, C.A., Haynos, A.F., Schwartz, M.B. et al. Calorie estimation accuracy and menu labeling perceptions among individuals with and without binge eating and/or purging disorders. Eat Weight Disord 18, 255–261 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-013-0035-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-013-0035-x

Keywords

  • Menu labeling
  • Eating disorders
  • Calorie estimation