Cost-effectiveness of calorie labeling at large fast-food chains in the United States: Impact on population health and health equity
Food and Nutrition
Introduction. As required by the Affordable Care Act, calorie labeling of standard menu items has been implemented at large restaurant chains across the United States since 2018. A recent study using data from over 67 million fast-food restaurant transactions between 2015 and 2019 found that consumers purchased on average 5% fewer calories per transaction post-calorie labeling.
Methods. Using data from this recent study and the microsimulation model developed for the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES), we modeled the 10-year effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of calorie labeling at large fast-food chains in the United States. We estimated the health impact of the intervention assuming similar effects of calorie labeling across all population sub-groups. Intervention implementation costs were extracted from the FDA’s Final Rule and adjusted based on model assumptions.
Results. By 2028, calorie labeling at large fast-food chains is expected to reach over 300 million Americans and could prevent over 500,000 cases of obesity across the population, including over 30,000 cases of childhood obesity. Reductions in obesity prevalence are expected among all income, racial, and ethnic groups. This intervention is projected to save over $6 billion in health care costs.
Discussion. Calorie labeling at large fast-food chains in the United States is a cost-effective policy intervention to improve population health.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Linked Session ID:
Roxanne Dupuis, MSPH
, Jason Block, MD
, Joshua Petimar, ScD
, Michael Long, ScD
, Jessica Barrett, MPH
, Erica Kenney, ScD
, Zachary Ward, PhD
, Aviva Musicus, ScD
, Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD
, Steven Gortmaker, PhD
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,
Division of Chronic Disease Research Across the Lifecourse, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute & Harvard Medical School,
Department of Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University,
Department of Nutrition & Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,
Center for Health Decision Science, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health,
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Learning Outcome 1:
Demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of calorie labeling at large fast-food chains in the United States.
Learning Outcome 2:
Identify the effect of calorie labeling on population health and health disparities.
Linked Session Title:
Nutrition strategies that cost-effectively improve population health and health equity