Several cities have enacted calorie labeling laws on fast food and restaurant menus, but few have included the context of the USDA’s recommended daily intake of 2000 calories. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act calls for restaurant chains to visibly post both calories and the 2000 calorie context.
Leveraging the periodicity of Monday is not only a great way for public health professionals to raise awareness about calorie labeling: It also serves to translate the policies of menu labeling into concrete behaviors that will truly improve the out-of-home eating habits of the American public.
In order to identify effective strategies for promoting calorie labeling, Johns Hopkins conducted a study in the cafeteria of the university’s Medical Center to determine if weekly email or text messages could make people more aware of calorie limits and encourage them to eat less.
The study found that only 43% of college educated respondents knew about the 2000 calorie intake recommendation, underscoring the importance of promoting awareness of the recommendation as part of any calorie labeling initiative. Approximately one-third of participants who received text messages felt the information they received on Mondays increased their awareness of calorie consumption and helped them eat fewer calories throughout the rest of the week.