Many people ignore, miss calorie counts on fast food menus

Nov. 15, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

By Kathleen Doheny

Posting the calorie content of menu items at restaurants is designed to make diners stop and think, tally up the total, and make wiser choices.

In real life, that doesn’t seem to be the case, according to new research.

In a poll of 2,000 Philadelphia fast food customers, aged 18 to 64, few used the information, even if they noticed it, said study author Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of population health and health policy at the New York Univesity School of Medicine.

“Forty percent of the sample saw it and about 10 percent [overall] said they used it and reported to us that they purchased fewer calories,” he said. Continue reading

Most people use calorie information at fast food restaurants, when they read it

Nov. 22, 2013, Journal of Public Health

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adults who read calorie information when it is available at fast food and chain restaurants tend to use the information when purchasing food. The authors, including Heidi Blanck, chief of CDC’s Obesity Prevention and Control Branch and member of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, found that 95.4 percent of those who read calorie information used it at least sometimes when making their food choices. The study was published online this week in the Journal of Public Health. Continue reading

New report from Healthy Eating Research reviews new evidence on consumer menu labeling

More and more chain restaurants and cafeterias are labeling menus to provide consumers with calorie and other information about standard menu items. This trend is driven by the adoption of menu labeling regulations and other policies by states, localities, and institutions as they seek to prevent and reduce obesity.

This research review summarizes new information published since the last Healthy Eating Research review of this topic in 2009. Key findings from this review show that there is a high degree of public support for providing nutrition information at the point of purchase, and menu labeling in cafeterias and restaurants increases consumers’ awareness of nutritional information. Continue reading

Study: Too few kids use fast food calorie info

May 23, 2013, WebMD

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

While some fast food chains are required to provide calorie and other nutritional information to help customers make informed choices, kids who eat fast food at least twice a week are 50 percent less likely to use this information than kids who eat fast food less often, according to a new U.S. study.

Those most likely to use the calorie information are girls and children who are obese, said the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

A comprehensive menu labeling standard is needed to support healthy choices

April 4, 2013, The Huffington Post

This article was co-authored by former Secretaries Dan Glickman and Ann M. Veneman.

In an effort to help Americans make more informed food choices, the Affordable Care Act created a national menu labeling standard for food establishments with 20 or more locations. Recently, several types of establishments that serve food — for example, movie theaters and supermarkets — have sought exemption from calorie labeling requirements. Such exemptions would create a patchwork system that will prevent Americans from knowing the caloric content of far too much of the food they purchase and consume.

As a nation facing rising rates of obesity and related chronic diseases that cost our health care system hundreds of billions each year, we know we need to make prevention a primary focus. Healthy eating and active living, as recommended by the federal 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, are critical health behaviors that can prevent many chronic diseases. But changing individual behavior is only possible when supported by an environment that helps make the healthy choice the easy choice. Continue reading