Survey finds Americans want to know calorie content when eating out

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By: Lydia Sheaks
lsheaks@elkharttruth.com

I’ll never forget the terror I felt when I first noticed the restaurants I frequent including nutritional information right next to the descriptions of some of my favorite foods.

Finally, I could no longer pretend I didn’t know my “salad” actually had more calories than I’m supposed to eat in an entire day.

I couldn’t blissfully swill a 20-ounce slushy coffee anymore without promising myself I’d eat steamed broccoli for dinner to make up for it.

I’m not sure exactly how long restaurants have felt the need to make me feel guilty about eating their food.

But in 2010, a federal law was passed that actually requires restaurants with 20 or more establishments to post calorie content of the dishes they sell, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The law isn’t being implemented yet, but some restaurants (including fast food chains like McDonald’s and the beloved-by-many coffee mecca, Starbucks) post this information anyway.

But does knowing how many calories are in restaurant entrees really make a difference when we go out to eat?

A 2012 CDC survey of adults in 17 U.S. states found that it does.

About 57 percent of people surveyed said they at least sometimes change their orders based on calorie information that’s posted on restaurant menus.

Forty-three percent of people surveyed said they don’t use the calorie information, and nine percent of those people said they don’t even notice nutritional information on the menu.

In every state, the survey found that women are more attuned to nutritional information on menus than men.

What about you?
Do you notice those sometimes minuscule numbers next to the larger font advertising the death-by-chocolate cake? And if so, do you order the fruit plate instead?

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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