Menu labeling and portion size control to improve the out-of-home food environment: A scoping review

23 Jan 2024



Menu labeling and portion size control interventions may be effective strategies to mitigate the health risks posed by the out-of-home food environment. We conducted this scoping review to map the body of evidence (BoE) addressing the effects of menu labeling and portion size control interventions in the out-of-home food environment and to summarize the research gaps in this evidence base.


We searched PubMed, Embase, Epistemonikos, and PROSPERO in phase 1 for systematic reviews (SRs) and PubMed and Embase in phase 2 for primary studies in areas with insufficient SR evidence. We used a comprehensive search strategy without any restrictions on publication date, language, study population characteristics or outcomes. We screened all titles independently and in duplicate. We mapped the number of systematic reviews providing evidence per intervention-setting combination in a matrix. The gaps in the matrix informed the searches for primary studies in phase 2. For the included SR protocols and primary studies, we charted the population, intervention, comparator, outcome, period, and study design to facilitate their evaluation and inclusion in future evidence syntheses.


We included 69 completed SRs; 37 on menu labeling, 9 on portion size control, and 23 on both. The types of menu labeling interventions studied were quantitative nutrient information (74%), interpretational guidance (48%), or contextual guidance (13%). Most reviews were from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Most SRs included studies in establishments like cafeterias (51%) or restaurants (39%) and measured change in the quantity of food offered/ordered/consumed (96%). Phase 2 search yielded 24 primary studies; 16 experimental, 6 quasi-experimental, and 2 observational studies.


The BoE on the effectiveness of menu labeling and portion size control is predominantly from the developed world, on nutrient information labeling and reporting impact on consumer food choice. There is a need for studies in the online environment and reporting distal health outcomes.

Other publications and stories