Assessing the Effects of Gender and Education on the Influence of Menu Labels Among Latino Consumers
Nutritional content labels on fast food and restaurant menus and signage have gained popularity and momentum with the recognized need to motivate individuals to improve their eating habits outside the home. However, no known studies have assessed nutrition and menu labeling behavior among Latino consumers while taking into consideration factors such as gender and education. Higher levels of education may influence the utility of menu labeling as more educated individuals recognize the benefits of monitoring their eating; and in particular, the effects of education were expected to be strongest for Latino men. To address these issues, this thesis analyzed data collected from a convenience sample of Latino patrons (n=100) attending a community market in South Los Angeles that implemented menu labels. Pearson's chi-square tests and logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between gender, education, and the influence of menu labels on meal choice among Latino consumers who ranged in age from 18 to 67. Being a woman, married, and insured were significant correlates of utilization of nutrition and menu labels. Level of education and the interaction between gender and education, however, was not significantly associated with menu label utilization across the models analyzed. These results suggest that, in addition to providing nutritional content information, labeling interventions should implement strategies to educate consumers about healthy eating at the point-of-purchase and more directly motivate consumers to use the labeling information. Results also suggest that as Latino women are more sensitized to these intervention ideas, their behaviors need to be reinforced, whereas more efforts need to be taken to engage Latino men.