Menu Calorie Counts Work...When You Actually Read Them
Good news out of the Big Apple, where New York City's Department of Health found that those calorie counts popping up on restaurant menus are actually encouraging people to make healthier choices.
The bad news? Only one out of every six people actually pay attention to them.
But those customers who did check them out ended up ordering about 100 fewer calories than the majority who ignored the counts, according to the study, which was published this week in the British Medical Journal.
"Calorie labeling alone won't cure the obesity epidemic but it is one part of trying to address it," said study co-author Dr. Lynn D. Silver, director of the Office of Science and Policy at the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Researchers interviewed 16,000 New York City restaurant customers and examined their receipts. Women and those in wealthier neighborhoods tended to pay attention to calorie counts most frequently, with diners at KFC and Au Bon Pain making the biggest shifts to lighter fare.
The results suggest that menu labeling works, as long as you get consumers to pay attention and care.