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Associations between self-perception of weight, food choice intentions, and consumer response to calorie information: a retrospective investigation of public health center clients in Los Angeles County before the implementation of menu-labeling regulation.



Although obesity continues to rise and remains a great public health concern in the U.S., a number of important levers such as self-perception of weight and calorie postings at point-of-purchase in restaurants are still not well-characterized in the literature, especially for low-income and minority groups in Los Angeles County (LAC). To study this gap, we examined the associations of self-perception of weight (as measured by body weight discrepancy) with food choice intentions and consumer response to calorie information among low-income adults residing in LAC during the pre-menu labeling regulation era.


Descriptive and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the aforementioned associations utilizing data from the 2007-2008 Calorie and Nutrition Information Survey (CNIS). The CNIS was a local health department study of 639 low-income adults recruited from five large, multi-purpose public health centers in LAC.


Survey participants who reported that their desired weight was less than their current weight (versus desired weight the same as current weight) had (i) higher odds of intending to select lower-calorie foods under the scenario that calorie information was available at point-of-purchase (aOR = 2.0; 95 % CI: 1.0-3.9); and (ii) had higher odds of reporting that it is "very important" to have these calorie postings on food items in grocery stores (aOR = 3.1; 95 % CI: 0.90-10.7) and in fast-food restaurants (aOR = 3.4; 95 % CI: 1.0-11.4).


Self-perception of weight was found to be associated with the intention to select lower-calorie foods under the scenario that calorie information was available at point-of-purchase. Future public health efforts to support menu labeling implementation should consider these and other findings to inform consumer education and communications strategies that can be tailored to assist restaurant patrons with this forthcoming federal law.

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