Calorie Counts Prompt Healthier Food Choices

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Calorie counts on restaurant menus are actually making a difference in how Americans are eating, according to new research.

Nearly half of restaurant-goers say they’ve been eating healthier at restaurants in the past year, according to a new survey by Mintel, a market research firm. About 67% said they’ve been reducing their fat intake, 52% are eating more fruits and vegetables and 49% say they’ve been cutting calories by ordering less food.

But while more people have adopted healthier eating habits, 60% of those surveyed said they want their meals to actually taste good.

Several U.S. states, including New York and New Jersey, require calorie counts on restaurant chain menus, but soon the new federal health care bill will require every restaurants that has 20 or more locations to include calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

“Menu transparency will allow consumers to have control over their food decisions with a complete understanding of what they’re eating,” notes Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel.

In response to consumer demand, restaurants have increased the number of items on their menus that contain fruits or vegetables by 10% in the past three years.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, “prevention of obesity in childhood is the single most powerful public health approach to combating America’s obesity epidemic.”

“It’s important to get feedback from both parents and kids to provide a healthy balance on the menu that kids will want to eat and parents will approve of,” Giandelone said.

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