Interventions to promote healthy eating choices when dining out: A systematic review of reviews

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To synthesize review research pertaining to the effectiveness of interventions in dining-out settings to reduce food/calorie consumption. Methods: A rapid review methodology was employed to focus on synthesized research. A comprehensive search for peer-reviewed systematic reviews from 2010 to 2015 yielded 1,847 citations. Following screening, ten systematic reviews were included. Results: The 10 included systematic reviews identified 183 primary studies evaluating evidence in three behavioural intervention areas: social models/norms, manipulation of size, and provision of health information. Three systematic reviews evaluating the use of social models/norms found this was an effective intervention for influencing food intake. Five systematic reviews that assessed manipulation of portion/dishware/cutlery size found a small-to-moderate effect on food consumption. Three systematic reviews looked at the provision of health information, which was not effective alone; however, in combination with contextual or interpretive material such as traffic lights or exercise equivalence, this was shown to reduce calorie consumption. One systematic review covered two topic areas. Conclusions: The results indicate that policies or interventions that aim to improve healthy choices or consumption when dining out would benefit from harnessing social norms and positive positioning of social identity. Furthermore, provision of health information should always be accompanied by an interpretative guide, such as traffic lights. Manipulation of plate/portion/cutlery size may be effective; however, the effect size is small and further research is required to investigate whether this effect is retained in overweight or obese populations. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Eating behaviours (food choices, consumption) have played a role in the obesity epidemic. Behavioural ‘nudges’ have tried to increase healthier eating choices. What does this study add? Social norms and modelling have a strong influence in both directions on how much people consume. Provision of nutritional information needs to be paired with interpretative aids (e.g., traffic lights). Manipulation of portion size is less effective in overweight populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-295
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • behavioural interventions
  • dining out
  • healthy eating
  • rapid review
  • systematic reviews

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