Research Article| Volume 48, ISSUE 2, P122-130.e1, February 2016

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College Students Must Overcome Barriers to Use Calorie Labels in Fast-Food Restaurants

Published:November 14, 2015DOI:



      To explore predictors of intention of college students to use calorie labels on fast-food menus and differences in calories ordered after viewing calorie information.


      Quasi-experimental design. Participants selected a meal from a menu without calorie labels, selected a meal from the same menu with calorie labels, and completed a survey that assessed demographics, dietary habits, Theory of Planned Behavior constructs, and potential barriers to use of calorie labeling.


      A southern university.


      Undergraduate university students (n = 97).

      Main Outcome Measures

      Predictors of intention to use calorie labels and whether calories selected from the nonlabeled menu differed from the labeled menu.


      Confirmatory factor analysis, exploratory factor analysis, multiple regression, and paired t tests.


      Participants ordered significantly fewer calories (P = .02) when selecting from the labeled menu vs the menu without labels. Attitudes (P = .006), subjective norms (P < .001), and perceived behavioral control (P = .01) predicted intention to use calorie information but did not predict a difference in the calories ordered. Hunger (P = .03) and cost (P = .04) were barriers to using the calorie information.

      Conclusions and Implications

      If students can overcome barriers, calorie labeling could provide information that college students need to select lower-calorie items at fast-food restaurants.

      Key Words

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