The Oxford Health Alliance |

You are here: Frontpage > News stories > 2009-Q3 (July-Sept) > Calorie counting in hospital cafés
The Oxford Health Alliance |
Calorie counting in hospital cafés
14 Aug 2009 | Food choices of employees and visitors influenced by labelling
| 14 August 2009

A University of California, Berkeley, study of cafeterias in five Kaiser Permanente hospitals has confirmed that different nutrition labelling influences the food choices made by employees as well as visitors.

Two different forms of labelling were investigated – calorie labelling on menu boards at the point of purchase, or a wall poster with both calorie and detailed nutrition information – and this was compared with a scenario in which no nutrition information was provided. The study period lasted from August to November 2008: it tracked purchases at tills at two of the sites, and surveyed more than 500 customers of the cafeterias four weeks after the labelling was introduced. Two-thirds of those who responded at the sites with menu-board labelling claimed that the calorie information had led them to alter their intended purchase.

According to Karen Webb, co-author of the study, ‘Based on the changes we observed on patrons' lunch choices, and the frequency with which patrons go to the cafeteria over the course of a week, this kind of intervention could prevent up to five pounds of unwanted weight gain per year’ – although with the proviso, of course, ‘that people don't compensate by eating more calories at other meals, or in other settings’.

Following the study, Kaiser Permanente is to provide calorie information on menu boards in the cafeterias it operates in California, Oregon and Hawaii, and where the company does not operate its own cafeterias, this will be phased in over time.

Source: Employee Benefit News online, 11 August 2009.