Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

First Advisor

Sonya J Jones


Providing point-of-selection nutrition information in a foodservice environment or menu labeling is a cost effective policy approach to educating patrons about the energy content of meals away from home but the effectiveness of menu labeling is unclear. Some strategies to improve the effectiveness of menu labeling include providing an easy to use menu label, making healthy options readily identifiable and improving the access to menu labels in a foodservice operation.

We conducted our intervention in a hospital cafeteria to investigate these strategies by using a two-by-two-by-two factorial design, comparing two types of menu labels (i.e., "Simple" (i.e., entrée description and Kcal) and "Complex" (i.e., Nutrition Facts Panel)), two types of placement (i.e., floor menu stand and countertop menu stand) and two service intensities (i.e., peak- and off-peak service periods). We also obtained item sales, revenue and food cost of all items sold in our cafeteria to assess the financial impact of menu labeling. Quasi-experimental, single-group, interrupted time-series design was used conduct our intervention. We examined mean differences in average energy content of entrées sold among the four intervention conditions, accounting for secular trend over the 23 weeks. Also, the mean differences among four intervention conditions were stratified by peak- and off-peak service periods of cafeteria. Average energy content of entrées that patrons purchased was lowest (by -16.0 Kcal overall; -31.4 Kcal at off-peak service period) with the condition of Simple menu labels placed where patrons were queued. No significant loss of item sales, revenue and profit was observed throughout our intervention.

We also conducted an intercept survey, which was developed using the Elaboration Likelihood Model, to assess patrons' preference for Simple- and Complex menu label under various situational, personal and product category factors that may influence patrons' use of menu labels in a foodservice operation. We found that patrons preferred to use Simple menu labels when they are feeling rushed and in a crowded cafeteria but Complex menu label was preferred for other factors that we examined.

Modification to the placement of menu labels and providing an easy to use menu labels may help patrons reduce average energy content of entrées purchased. Also, our findings should dispel concerns about potential loss of revenue and profit associated with menu labeling in a foodservice operation.


© 2012, Yong H. Chu