Food choice in response to computer-generated nutrition information provided about meal selections in workplace restaurants

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Abstract:

Aim: The study was designed to determine the effect of computerized nutrition information on consumer food choice in two workplace restaurants, one in which customers had to pay for their lunch and the other providing a free lunch. Methods: Customers entering the restaurants were asked to make selections from the menu on a computer screen. The energy, saturated fatty acids, non-milk extrinsic sugars and non-starch polysaccharide content of the meal selected was displayed graphically in proportion to the dietary reference values. They were given the opportunity to change their selected meal and the composition of all meals was recorded. Results: The nutritional composition of the first meal provoked 16% of customers to make a second selection. The proportion of energy in the first selection had been 31% higher for saturated fatty acids and 23% higher for non-milk extrinsic sugars than the first selection made by people who were satisfied with their first choice. In their second attempt they succeeded in reducing both nutrients to levels similar to those present in the meals selected by people who had been satisfied with their first selection. Customers┬╗ selections for non-starch polysaccharide and energy did not differ between the groups. The main changes made by customers to achieve improved second choices were to omit dishes (44%), add dishes (19%), make changes within a menu category (46%), and make changes from one menu category to another (26%). Conclusion: It was concluded that provision of graphical nutrition information on a computer screen could be used by a subset of the users of both restaurants to enable them to improve their menu selections to a similar composition to that selected by the other people who used the computer system.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-277X.1996.00452.x

Affiliations: School of Food and Consumer Studies, The Robert Gordon University, Queen's Road, Aberdeen AB9 2PG, UK

Publication date: June 1, 1996

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