Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fighting obesity with apps and websites

20.08.2013
A pending component of health care reform would require restaurants and vending machines to list calorie information on menus to help fight obesity.

But there's little evidence to date that it's an effective way to prevent overeating.

A new Duke University study suggests a better approach might be for restaurants to expand and improve calorie listings on their websites and mobile apps, so customers can come better prepared to order a healthier menu item.

"If consumers wait until they enter restaurants to make purchasing decisions, it might be too late," said lead author Gary Bennett, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, global health at Duke who studies obesity prevention. "Particularly for those who are watching their waistlines, it's important to make plans before stepping through the restaurant doors. That's why we were interested in understanding whether and how calorie information was available online."

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and restaurant food, which often includes added butter, sauces and grains, can be a big contributor to weight gain.

Once inside a restaurant, it's difficult to counteract in-store marketing, as well as psychological and biological responses that lead people to overeat, researchers have found.

The Food and Drug Administrations is still working out the final rules for menu calorie labeling, and there's no established date yet for publishing them, said FDA spokesman Daniel Reese.

"It's wonderful to see regulators doing more to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions," Bennett said. "However, we will need to adapt these policies to the emerging evidence, which suggests that simply placing calories on restaurant menus will not be sufficient."

The Duke study, which posts at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, Aug. 21, on the website of the journal PLOS ONE, assessed the top 100 U.S. chain restaurants' websites to determine the availability of and ease of access to calorie information. It also considered characteristics of website design and ease of access.

Researchers found that calorie information is both available and largely accessible on the websites of America's leading restaurants. But the variability in how that information was presented makes it unclear how it might affect consumer behavior.

Among their findings:

Eighty-two percent of restaurants provided calorie information on their websites;

Twenty-five percent presented calories on a mobile-formatted website;

Slightly more than half of sites (51.2 percent) linked to calorie information directly via the homepage;

Quick service/fast casual, larger restaurants and those with less-expensive entrées or lower revenue were more likely to make calorie information available;

About half the websites of top chains highlighted healthy eating options, although it's up to the restaurant to decide what counts as a "healthy food."

The study, funded by the Duke Obesity Prevention Program, also found that only 46.3 percent of these restaurants had a separate online section identifying healthy eating options. Increasing this feature on restaurant websites could help diners make better choices, researchers said.

However, this feature has not been effective on in-store menus.

Similar research by Gavan Fitzsimons, who studies consumer behavior at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, has found that including a healthy option on an in-store menu did not translate into healthier eating choices.

On the contrary, Fitzsimons found that just seeing the healthier item on an in-store menu tended to make people more likely to eat less-healthy food.

Another Duke study done in King County, Washington, found that adding nutrition facts to menus at one fast-food chain had no effect on consumer behavior in its first year.

CITATION: "Availability of and Ease of Access to Calorie Information on Restaurant Websites," lead author Gary Bennett, Dori Steinberg, Michele Lanpher, Sandy Askew, Ilana Lane, Erica Levine, Perry Foley, Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University; Melody Goodman, Siteman School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis. PLOS One, online Aug. 21, 2013; PONE-D-13-09404R2.

Steve Hartsoe | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>