Forcing fast food restaurants to declare calorie content on their menus does not affect the choices made by people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, say Australian researchers.
Comparing areas where labelling is mandatory with those where it isn’t, the researchers found only wealthier people made healthier choices when confronted with the calorie content of fast foods.
In high income countries, poorer people have a higher prevalence of obesity and consume fast food more frequently than those with a higher socioeconomic position.
Mandatory menu labelling is a policy intended to enable healthy choices and reduce obesity. However, the impact of this policy on socioeconomic disparities in obesity is unclear.
Danja Sarink, of the Baker IDI Heart and the Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, and colleagues wrote in a paper presented to the European Congress on Obesity:
“Based on the limited evidence, it seems unlikely that mandatory menu energy labelling alone will have a direct benefit in low income populations. Whether it will in fact increase socio-economic disparities in overweight and obesity is unclear and further evidence on different contexts and regions is needed.”
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