IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Information, Choice, and Obesity: Measuring the Impact of the New York City Calorie Labeling Mandate on Obesity


  • Rodrigo Aranda Balcazar

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Michael Darden

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Donald Rose

    () (School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University)


The New York City Calorie Labeling Mandate of 2008 required fast food restaurants to post calorie information for all standardized items. We estimate the impact of the mandate on the rate of obesity using data from the Selected Metropolitan/Metropolitan Area Risk Trends of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (SMART-BRFSS) from 2004 to 2010. We show that the mandate plausibly reduced the obesity rate by 2.5 percentage points - a 12% decline. Our results are robust to a variety of sensitivity checks and strengthened by various placebo tests. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the American Time Use Survey, we show that our obesity result was not driven by changes in fast food frequency or expenditure but may have been driven by a large increase in the extensive margin of physical activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodrigo Aranda Balcazar & Michael Darden & Donald Rose, 2016. "Information, Choice, and Obesity: Measuring the Impact of the New York City Calorie Labeling Mandate on Obesity," Working Papers 1611, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1611

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First Version, August 2016
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emily Yucai Wang, 2015. "The impact of soda taxes on consumer welfare: implications of storability and taste heterogeneity," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 409-441, June.
    2. Dumanovsky, T. & Huang, C.Y. & Bassett, M.T. & Silver, L.D., 2010. "Consumer awareness of fast-food calorie information in new york city after implementation of a menu labeling regulation," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 100(12), pages 2520-2525.
    3. Ehsan Latif, 2014. "The Impact Of Macroeconomic Conditions On Obesity In Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 751-759, June.
    4. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Information Asymmetry; Obesity; Calorie Labeling;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1611. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Yang Wang). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.