Abstract: Emerging adults are among those in the United States with concerning rates of overweight and obesity, putting them at risk for chronic diseases. One proposed intervention to address these issues across populations is to require that chain restaurants and similar establishments provide nutrition information, such as calorie labels, on menu items. This study therefore aims to examine the effect of menu calorie labeling and self-control on food and beverage choices of emerging adults. Results of a between-subjects experiment (n = 179) revealed that calorie labeling increased the likelihood of choosing lower calorie food and beverage options. Moreover, calorie labeling only led to selecting a lower calorie food option among those with high self-control, but not among those with low self-control. This moderating effect was not revealed for beverage choice. Public health practitioners and policymakers should consider intervention approaches that address other drivers of choice, such as self-control, in addition to nutrition information.
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