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