The effect of presenting relative calorie information on calories ordered

Christopher R. Gustafson, Eliana Zeballos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this research, we tested the effect of a novel method of presenting calorie information—highlighting relative differences in calories among ingredients. We conducted an online hypothetical food choice experiment where 633 participants selected the ingredients for a sandwich from five categories: meat/protein, cheese, spread/dressing, bread, and vegetables. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of four calorie information conditions: 1) a condition in which no information about calories was provided, 2) a condition in which calorie information was provided for each ingredient, 3) a condition in which calorie information was presented relative to the highest calorie item, and 4) a condition in which calorie information was presented relative to the lowest calorie item. Participants in the high- and low-calorie reference conditions ordered between 32 and 36 fewer calories per sandwich than participants in the no-calorie information control condition (p ≤ 0.04). Calories ordered by participants in the per-item calorie condition were not significantly different than the control. Presenting relative calorie or other nutritional information to make health-related trade-offs more salient may guide consumers to make healthier choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104727
JournalAppetite
Volume153
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Behavioral economics
  • Calorie estimation
  • Calorie labeling
  • Cognition
  • Food choice
  • Food-away-from-home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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