Maybe Frightening Food Facts Work?

A study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that those calorie menu boards you see popping up at sit-down chain and fast food restaurants…they might actually be doing more than just making you feel bad about what you’re about to scarf down.

According to the study findings, being forced to expose what’s in your food makes restaurants tone down their outrageous fat and calorie counts. The study looked at sit-down chain and fast food restaurants.

At sit-down chain restaurants, some positive changes were found in the 37 restaurants in King County, WA (Seattle) that were audited.

Nutrient content checks were made 6 months after a menu labeling disclosure law went into affect and then again at the 18 month mark, with comparisons being made for entrees on the menu at both checks:

  • On average, 73 calories were trimmed from meals (1,044 average down to 970 calories)
  • Saturated fat went down from 18 to 16 grams per meal
  • Sodium declined from 2,100 mg to 1,900 mg

Fast food restaurants fared alright as well:

  • Entrees were reduced from 669 to 650 calories
  • Sodium declined by 18 mg and averaged 1,600 mg on the 2nd check

But despite preliminary, positive changes – problems still exist:

  • 56% of chain restaurant entrees exceed nutrition recommendations for calories
  • 75% had too much saturated fat
  • 89% went over sodium guidelines

The bottom line? Eating out might be less toxic for you due to nutrient posting laws – but you’re still a long way away from the health of home-cooked meals.