Calorie postings on menus result in more health mentions in online restaurant reviews, study finds

f466c105-c12d-447d-8b22-c4f257196bc4articleimage.jpg

11 Oct 2017 --- In 2008, New York City introduced a rule mandating calorie postings for chain restaurants that was intended to induce healthier choices by highlighting the calorie content of restaurant meals. A new study now shows that this regulation can not only shift consumers towards healthier alternatives when inside a restaurant, but can also have spillover effects on other customers reading online reviews by potentially redirecting them towards healthier restaurants and food items.

A forthcoming study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, a leading scholarly marketing publication, investigated whether the calorie posting on menus has broader spillovers by impacting consumer evaluations of the restaurant. 

The authors analyzed 761,962 restaurant reviews across 9,805 restaurants on an online restaurant review website in New York City from 2004 to 2012. Using text-mining methods, the authors examined the change in the mentions of health in reviews over time before and after the calorie posting rule went into effect. 

To rule out the possibility that the health mentions increase was simply due to increased public interest in health issues over time, they compared the change in topics discussed for chain restaurants, relative to non-chain restaurants which were not mandated by the rule to post calorie information. The authors found a significant increase in the proportion of reviews that discussed health for chain restaurants, relative to non-chain restaurants.

The authors also explored in greater detail the source of the increase in health topics. They found that it was largely driven by new reviewers who were previously not active in posting reviews, but began to post more reviews after the mandate. 

Co-author Dinesh Puranam of the University of Southern California notes that "interestingly, the increase in health discussion in opinions was not confined to restaurants in more affluent localities, commonly associated with more health-conscious consumers. This is an encouraging sign of the success of the rule across the socioeconomic divide - especially given the greater incidence of obesity among lower socio economic classes."

New York City recently expanded the rule to beyond chain restaurants to also include fine dining restaurants. 

Our finding that "calorie posting on menus impact online reviews is significant for this rule expansion since consumers are even more likely to consult reviews for fine dining restaurants than for chain restaurants that they habitually visit. Whether this will have an impact on calorific content of items on fine dining restaurant menus of restaurants, of course, remains to be seen," Narayan notes.

Kadiyali cautioned that more work is needed to study whether the increased discussion of health topics actually do lead to greater choice of healthier restaurants. "It is possible that the health conscious consumers may choose healthier restaurants while the less health conscious may avoid them. In this case, health benefits across the population may be ambiguous. Nevertheless, our study suggests that online reviews are a useful place to look for potential changes in consumer behavior due to this rule," she says.

The study, "The Effect of Calorie Posting Regulation on Consumer Opinion: A Flexible Latent Dirichlet Allocation Model with Informative Priors," is co-authored by Dinesh Puranam of the University of Southern California, Vishal Narayan of the National University of Singapore and Vrinda Kadiyali of Cornell University.

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

Rhodiola rosea botanical’s authenticity issues laid bare in new bulletin

17 Oct 2017 --- The Botanical Adulterants Program, run by organizations including the American Botanical Council (ABC), has announced the publication of a new Botanical Adulterants Bulletin (BAB) on Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea). The bulletin details authenticity issues in the rhodiola trade.

Nutrition & Health News

Arla Foods aims to up UK’s protein intake with launch of new milk

17 Oct 2017 --- Farmer-owned dairy company Arla Foods is to expand its protein range with the launch of Arla Protein Milk in the UK. Arla Foods says the new product continues its innovation in the dairy sector through increasing protein content via everyday dairy products.

Nutrition & Health News

New ketone salts boost fat burning but impair exercise performance: study

13 Oct 2017 --- To improve physical performance, some athletes turn to untested nutritional supplements, with varying results. In the case of one recently available and popular class of supplements – ketone salts – research from UBC's Okanagan campus suggests it may inhibit, rather than improve, athletic performance during high-intensity exercise.

Nutrition & Health News

Junk food ad spending outstrips UK government campaigns as healthcare costs of obesity soar

13 Oct 2017 --- Money spent last year on junk food advertising in the UK far outweighed the amount the government spent on healthy eating campaigns, leading to an unbalanced environment pushing the British public towards unhealthy choices, according to new analysis by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA).

Nutrition & Health News

Latest boost for plant-based protein as Quorn products show muscle benefits

12 Oct 2017 --- Protein found in Quorn meat-free foods may be just as beneficial for muscles as animal proteins, new research funded by Quorn Foods suggests. News of the successful study is the latest to highlight a rosy future for plant-based proteins in the food and beverage marketplace.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/calorie-postings-on-menus-result-in-more-health-mentions-in-online-restaurant-reviews-study-finds.html