[vendtalk] Studies on Calorie Labeling and Change in Purchase Habits

Vandervoorts vandervoorts at sbcglobal.net
Fri Feb 5 22:50:24 UTC 2010

Here is a short New York Times article about calorie labeling and what
effect it had on the buying public.  It probably has some bearing on
labeling for vending machines.  Read what happened when a Dunkin Donuts was
located near a Starbucks!

Note: When I ask people about healthy foods and such, and beyond the "I do
not care" crowd and the "price is no object" healthy gang, it really comes
down to basic economics as captured in the following - 
	"If you want us to eat healthy, then sell good tasting food and
price it lower than the bad-for-you food you usually sell and that we want."

I am sure there are a vast number of other views, as well.

- - - - - 

New York Times
February 3, 2010

Calorie Counters 

This might come as an unpleasant surprise for the fast-food industry, but
when people can read how many calories there are in their fast food, they do
cut back. In a study of millions of transactions at several hundred
Starbucks outlets, economists from Stanford University found that consumers
in New York City responded to required calorie postings by cutting almost 15
calories off their average purchases, a calorie reduction of 6 percent.

Drinks were mostly unaffected. Customers instead bought less food with their
drinks and, to a lesser extent, bought lower-calorie items. The policy was
particularly effective with heavier eaters. A separate analysis of purchases
by Starbucks cardholders found that customers who consumed at least 250
calories per purchase cut their intake by 26 percent after the postings

This research seems to contradict the findings of an earlier study that
found that calorie postings at 14 outlets of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger
King and KFC in low-income New York City neighborhoods had no discernible
impact on customers' purchases in subsequent weeks. 

The research at Starbucks relied on many more transactions and outlets over
more than a year, so it is more precise. And despite the discrepancy, both
studies seem to suggest similar conclusions: calorie counts will be most
effective in higher-income neighborhoods, where consumers are better
educated. And they will work better when consumers have a choice of places -
with lower-calorie alternatives - to eat.

The Starbucks study covered all outlets in the city and found that customers
cut more calories in higher-income ZIP codes and ZIP codes with a higher
share of people with college degrees. It found that when there was a Dunkin'
Donuts nearby, Starbucks did more business.

The average decline in calorie intake reported at Starbucks is still
relatively small, especially when one considers the epidemic of obesity in
this country. Still, the fast-food industry's argument that calorie counts
on their menus would make no difference is clearly wrong.

If anything, the results of the survey suggest that calorie postings should
be supplemented by efforts to draw chain restaurants that offer healthier
foods into poorer neighborhoods. And more effort should go into educating
people about the health consequences of obesity. That way customers would be
in a better position to consider the calorie counts posted alongside their
favorite foods and make healthier choices. 
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/opinion/03wed4.html?th&emc=th

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