Recently, in an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been attempting to be more conscious of what I eat, this means obsessively tracking the calories of everything (ok, maybe not gum) that goes into my body. Sometimes this is tough, especially if you stop to grab something at a local café, but lately, major restaurants and shops have been listing the nutritional info for their items on the menu. For me, it makes it easier to make healthier choices (or remind myself that I need to get up and exercise after eating that burger), but for many others the effects aren’t quite the same.
Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York have rolled out laws requiring restaurant chains to list the nutritional information on menus, but researchers found that it hasn’t significantly lessened the amount of calories customers consumed.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that only one in six people change their order after viewing the nutritional information.
The New York city report surveyed the lunchtime crowd at 11 fast-food restaurant chains, looking at receipts for more than 7,300 people 12 months before the law took effect and for nearly 8,500 customers nine months after it was implemented.
For the three main restaurant chains studied, customers on average bought 44 fewer calories at McDonald’s, 80 fewer calories at Au Bon Pain and 59 fewer calories at KFC.
Subway, the popular sandwich chain, saw a significant increase during the survey because of its promotional offer for a $5, foot-long sandwich. The other chains saw little change in their customers’ purchases.
Despite most people continuing to order gut-busting options while they dine out, restaurants and fast food chains are under pressure to offer healthier choices to customers. Recently McDonalds said it would be switching up their famed happy meals to make them healthier for kids, and many chains have followed suit.
While the healthiest (and most economical) option is to cook at home, sometimes we are pressed for time or may want a nice meal out. It’s good to know that laws like those implemented in Los Angeles and New York City give us more information about what exactly we’re eating when we dine out.