Influence of nutritional labelling on the choice of a fast food by young adults from the professional and clerk occupational groups in the City of Cape Town, South Africa
Objective: To determine whether nutritional information provision would influence the choice of a popular fast food by young adults employed in the City of Cape Town, South Africa (SA), within the professional and clerk occupational classifications as consumer group, using a beef burger as exploratory item. Methodology: A survey, in the form of a self-administered questionnaire comprising closedended multiple-choice questions, was used to obtain information on the respondent fast food consumption, fast food consumption on nutritional information provision using a beef burger as exploratory item, demographic, biographic and lifestyle characteristics, and eating practices. Through the purchasing of beef burgers across four major leading fast food franchises located within the Western Cape, and specifically those based in the City of Cape Town competitive in this fast food category, information pertaining to beef burger ingredients and the individual ingredient weights were obtained, to compile 16 representative beef burger-types to be presented in the questionnaire. Beef burgers were presented as two menu-options (i.e. the first containing energy provision alone, vs. the second containing extended nutritional information as energy, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol provision) within the questionnaire, to obtain information on whether nutritional information provision would influence the respondents’ choice, and if so, which provision would do so. The questionnaire was assessed for content- and face-validity by an expert panel, and on the research receiving ethics approval, piloted and adapted before being distributed. Questionnaires were distributed according to the respondent preference for ease of use as either a hard printed copy or an electronic questionnaire. This was done via means of purposive and convenience sampling and by way of snowball sampling, to obtain young adults aged 20 to 34 years who were consumers of fast food and specifically beef burgers, within the selected occupational classifications working for small- to medium-sized companies in the City of Cape Town. Via the Pearson’s chi-squared and Fisher’s exact test and a logistic regression (Wald chisquare statistic) applied on the analysis, the factors to significantly influence the respondents to change their beef burger choice on the nutritional information provison were determined. Results: The final sample consisted of 157 respondents. A near-even split occurred between the respondents who would (52.2%) and wouldn’t (47.8%) be influenced by the nutritional information provision. Of the respondents who indicated that they would be influenced, the extended nutritional information provision had the highest influence. Twelve factors comprising a combination of the respondent biographic and lifestyle characteristics (n = 2), eating practices (n = 7), and fast food consumption (n = 3), were found to significantly (p < 0.05) influence the respondent choice of a beef burger on the nutritional information provision, and on application of the logistic regression, one factor strongly (p < 0.001) in each of the three domains. Of the respondents who indicated that they would not be influenced, more than half (54.4%) gave their reason as even though they were aware, or had an idea of the nutritional content of burgers, that they would still purchase their original choice even if the nutritional information was available, followed by one-quarter (25%) who indicated that they did not understand nutritional information. Conclusions: Extended nutritional information provision was found to positively influence a popular fast food choice among young adults employed within the City of Cape Town, SA, with health-consciousness being the overall factor identified to influence the choice of a healthier option on the nutritional information provision, as the identified significant factors were all related to health-conscious consumer attributes.