City Research Online

Socioeconomic position and the effect of energy labelling on consumer behaviour: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Robinson, E., Polden, M., Langfield, T. , Clarke, K., Calvert, L., Colombet, Z., O'Flaherty, M., Marty, L., Tapper, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-9097-6311 & Jones, A. (2023). Socioeconomic position and the effect of energy labelling on consumer behaviour: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 20, 10. doi: 10.1186/s12966-023-01418-0


BACKGROUND: There are well documented socioeconomic disparities in diet quality and obesity. Menu energy labelling is a public health policy designed to improve diet and reduce obesity. However, it is unclear whether the impact energy labelling has on consumer behaviour is socially equitable or differs based on socioeconomic position (SEP).

METHODS: Systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental (between-subjects) and pre-post implementation field studies examining the impact of menu energy labelling on energy content of food and/or drink selections in higher vs. lower SEP groups.

RESULTS: Seventeen studies were eligible for inclusion. Meta-analyses of 13 experimental studies that predominantly examined hypothetical food and drink choices showed that energy labelling tended to be associated with a small reduction in energy content of selections that did not differ based on participant SEP (X2(1) = 0.26, p = .610). Effect estimates for higher SEP SMD = 0.067 [95% CI: -0.092 to 0.226] and lower SEP SMD = 0.115 [95% CI: -0.006 to 0.237] were similar. A meta-analysis of 3 pre-post implementation studies of energy labelling in the real world showed that the effect energy labelling had on consumer behaviour did not significantly differ based on SEP (X2(1) = 0.22, p = .636). In higher SEP the effect was SMD = 0.032 [95% CI: -0.053 to 0.117] and in lower SEP the effect was SMD = -0.005 [95% CI: -0.051 to 0.041].

CONCLUSIONS: Overall there was no convincing evidence that the effect energy labelling has on consumer behaviour significantly differs based on SEP. Further research examining multiple indicators of SEP and quantifying the long-term effects of energy labelling on consumer behaviour in real-world settings is now required.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Energy labelling, Calorie labels, Individual differences, Obesity policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login