OBJECTIVE: Menu labelling is a practical tool to inform consumers of the energy content of menu items and help consumers make informed decisions in the eating-out environment, and the volume of studies published recently regarding its effects is expanding, both quantitatively and geographically. The aim of the present review and meta-analysis is to consider the most recent evidence which assesses the effect of menu labelling regarding changes in energy consumed, ordered or selected in both real-world and experimental settings.
DESIGN: The review included fifteen peer-reviewed, full-text articles published between 2012 and 2014. Pertinent methodological information was extracted from each of the included studies and a quality assessment scheme was applied to classify the studies, after which systematic across-study comparisons were conducted. A meta-analysis was conducted including twelve of the fifteen studies, and stratified according to type of research setting and outcome: energy consumed, ordered or selected.
RESULTS: The rating yielded studies categorized by study quality: good (n 3), fair (n 9) and weak (n 3). Overall nine studies showed statistically significant reductions in energy consumed, ordered or selected. Three articles reported no effect of menu labelling. The meta-analysis showed statistically significant effects of menu labelling: overall energy consumed was reduced by a mean of 419·5 kJ (100·2 kcal) and energy ordered in real-world settings decreased by a mean of 325·7 kJ (77·8 kcal).
CONCLUSIONS: The review supports that menu labelling can effectively reduce energy ordered and consumed in the away-from-home food environment.