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The Value and Cost of Restaurant Calorie Labels: Results from a Field Experiment

  • Ellison, Brenna D.
  • Lusk, Jayson L.
  • Davis, David W.

Using field experiment data, we estimate a structural model of consumer demand to determine the value of information for restaurant menu labels. Our experimental design allows us to compare the effectiveness of calorie labels to a “fat tax” at reducing caloric intake. Results show numeric labels did not influence demand, but symbolic traffic light labels reduced the marginal utility of caloric intake. Our model projects both labels would reduce intake more than high-calorie taxes or low-calorie subsidies. Ultimately, traffic light calorie labels led to the largest reduction in caloric intake but also one of the largest reductions in restaurant net returns.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/123529
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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA with number 123529.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaeafe:123529
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  1. Todd, Jessica E. & Mancino, Lisa & Lin, Biing-Hwan, 2010. "The Impact of Food Away from Home on Adult Diet Quality," Economic Research Report 58298, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Foster, William & Just, Richard E., 1989. "Measuring welfare effects of product contamination with consumer uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 266-283, November.
  3. Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-88, January.
  4. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  5. Schroeter, Christiane & Lusk, Jayson & Tyner, Wallace, 2008. "Determining the impact of food price and income changes on body weight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 45-68, January.
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