New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that large chain restaurants, whose core menu offerings are generally high in calories, fat, and sodium, introduced newer food and beverage options that, on average, contain 60 fewer calories than their traditional menu selections in 2012 and 2013.
Researchers say this could herald a trend in calorie reduction in anticipation of expected new federal government rules requiring large chain restaurants – including most fast-food places – to post calorie counts on their menus. The appearance of menu items containing 12 percent fewer calories could have a significant impact on the nation’s obesity epidemic, they say.
The findings appear in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
On a typical day, studies have shown, 33 percent of young children, 41 percent of adolescents and 36 percent of adults, eat at fast-food restaurants, with an average intake of 191 calories, 404 calories, and 315 calories, respectively.
“If the average number of calories consumed at each visit was reduced by approximately 60 calories — the average decline we observed in newly introduced menus in our study — the impact on obesity could be significant,” says Dr. Sara N. Bleich, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, and lead author of the study.