Nutrition information and its influence on menu choice within higher education establishments
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Authors: Feldman, C.H., Hartwell, H., Brusca, J., Su, H. and Zhao, H.
Journal: British Food Journal
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the influence of nutritional information on menu choices in a higher educational setting using a menu designed by the students themselves. Design/methodology/approach - Based on USDA healthy eating standards, a menu comprising seven healthy and seven unhealthy meal options were presented, once unlabeled as control (n = 214) and once labeled with healthy and non-healthy nutrient icons as an intervention test menu (n = 212). Findings - Findings demonstrate that despite a positive observed trend, there were no significant differences between healthy selection of labeled and unlabeled dishes (p = 0.16).Practical implications - Providing nutritional information in student cafeterias may be challenging but helpful. However, more strategies need to be developed with student input to provide nutrition data on menus in an informative, comprehensive, yet friendly way that encourages healthy eating in campus foodservices. The authors would like to thank Sodexho at Montclair State University for their full cooperation with this project. Competing interests: the author(s) declare that they have no competing interests. Authors’ contributions: authorship is based on substantive contributions to each of the following: conception and design of the study; generation and collection of data, analysis and/or interpretation; and drafting or revision of the manuscript and approval of the final version. Ethical approval: the Independent Ethical Review Board of Montclair State University gave full approval for this study. An information sheet and consent form was distributed to all respondents and signed and where informed consent implied through participation and completion of the questionnaire. Respondents were informed of their right to withdraw from the survey and that their identity would be protected. Data were stored safely for the duration of the study, for administrative purposes, after which handling of data sets will adhere to guidelines of the Data Protection Act 1998.Social implications – No labeling system or legislation can control choices made by individuals, so the responsibility for a healthy selection must always remain personal. However, consumers should have input on menus as they have a stake in the outcome of the products. Originality/value – This novel study tested a student-designed menu to assess whether user input can influence food choice.