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Cost-Effectiveness of Calorie Labeling at Large Fast-Food Chains Across the U.S.

This study evaluates the cost-effectiveness of calorie labeling at large U.S. fast-food chains.

Dupuis R, Block JP, Barrett JL, Long MW, Petimar J, Ward ZJ, Kenney EL, Musicus AA, Cannuscio CC, Williams DR, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Cost Effectiveness of Calorie Labeling at Large Fast-Food Chains Across the U.S. Am J Prev Med. 2024 Jan;66(1):128-137. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2023.08.012. Epub 2023 Aug 14. PubMed PMID: 37586572; NIHMSID:NIHMS1929380.



Calorie labeling of standard menu items has been implemented at large restaurant chains across the United States since 2018. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of calorie labeling at large U.S. fast-food chains.


This study evaluated the national implementation of calorie labeling at large fast-food chains from a modified societal perspective and projected its cost-effectiveness over a ten-year period (2018-2027) using the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study microsimulation model. Using evidence from over 67 million fast-food restaurant transactions between 2015 and 2019, the impact of calorie labeling on calorie consumption and obesity incidence was projected. Benefits were estimated across all racial, ethnic, and income groups. Analyses were performed in 2022.


Calorie labeling is estimated to be cost-saving, prevent 550,000 cases of obesity in 2027 alone (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 518,000; 586,000), including 41,500 (95% UI: 33,700; 50,800) cases of childhood obesity, and save $22.60 in health care costs for every $1 spent by society in implementation costs. Calorie labeling is also projected to prevent cases of obesity across all racial and ethnic groups (range between 126-185 cases per 100,000 people) and all income groups (range between 152-186 cases per 100,000 people).


Calorie labeling at large fast-food chains is estimated to be a cost-saving intervention to improve long-term population health. Calorie labeling is a low-cost intervention that is already implemented across the U.S. in large chain restaurants.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute under Award Number R01HL146625, by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases under Award Number R01DK115492, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Award Number U48DP006376, and by the JPB Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders. The funders had any role in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing the report; and the decision to submit the report for publication.

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