Price, Promotion, and Availability of Nutrition Information: A Descriptive Study of a Popular Fast Food Chain in New York City

  •  Corey Basch    
  •  Danna Ethan    
  •  Sonali Rajan    


Legislation in NYC requires chain restaurants to post calorie information on menu boards in an effort to help consumers make more informed decisions about food and beverage items they are purchasing. While this is a step in the right direction in light of the current obesity epidemic, there are other issues that warrant attention in a fast food setting, namely the pricing of healthy food options, promotional strategies, and access to comprehensive nutrition information. This study focused on a popular fast-food chain in NYC. The study’s aims were threefold: (1) to determine the cost differential between the healthiest meal item on the chain’s general menu and meal items available specifically on a reduced cost menu for one dollar (US$1.00); (2) to identify and describe the promotions advertised in the windows of these restaurants, as well as the nutrition content of promoted items; and (3) to ascertain availability of comprehensive nutrition information to consumers within the restaurants. We found the healthiest meal item to be significantly higher in price than less nutritious meal items available for $1.00 (t = 146.9, p < .001), with the mean cost differential equal to $4.33 (95% CI: $4.27, $4.39). Window promotions generally advertised less healthful menu items, which may aid in priming customers to purchase these versus more healthful options. Comprehensive nutrition information beyond calorie counts was not readily accessible prior to purchasing. In addition to improving access to comprehensive nutrition information, advertising more of and lowering the prices of nutritious options may encourage consumers to purchase healthier foods in a fast food setting. Additional research in this area is needed in other geographic locations and restaurant chains.


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