Do you order healthier dishes at fast-food restaurants since they started posting calories on menus?
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After restaurants began placing calorie counts on menus, diners at fast-food chains ordered items with an average of 60 fewer calories per transaction, a 4 percent drop, a study published Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ found. But after about a year, the drop had decreased to an average of just 23 fewer calories.
The study looked at 104 fast-food chain locations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas over three years.
Joshua Petimar, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study, told The Associated Press that the impact per person might be even less as orders likely included food for several people.
“The strongest impact might be felt in the short term, whereas the long-term effects are still a little bit up in the air,” he told the AP.
A Food and Drug Administration rule requiring restaurants, theaters and bars with at least 20 locations to label calorie counts on menus went into effect in May of 2018.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said at the time that the rule was intended to combat record obesity by providing consumers with more information. About 93.3 million adults and 13.7 million children in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is information Americans want or need in order to make decisions about the foods they eat so they can make more informed choices about their diets and health for themselves and their families,” Gottlieb said in a written statement.
Another study on posted calorie counts last year found an average 3 percent calorie reduction, the Institute of Food Technologists reported.
The restaurants in the new study had begun posting calorie counts in 2017, before the federal rule went into effect. The authors of the study told the AP that more research is needed to look at the longterm effects and how it would affect customers at sit-down restaurants.