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Despite menu changes, calorie and sodium levels in chain restaurant entrees remain the same overall
Date:9/30/2013

federal menu-labeling mandate, which was passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. More than three years later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued final regulations directing chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus, though some restaurants, such as McDonald's, have already started posting calorie counts on their menu boards.

Americans consume approximately one-third of their total calories and spend half of their food budget eating away from home. Yet restaurant menu offerings do not encourage healthy eating.

This new study is a follow up to an earlier Wu and Sturm study, published online in May 2012 by the journal Public Health Nutrition, which found 96 percent of entres by top U.S. chain restaurants failed to meet daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Within individual restaurant brands, a few brands did significantly lower the average calorie or sodium levels of their main entres, but some brands significantly increased them. The vast majority of restaurant brands did not have significantly different calorie or sodium levels for their main entres.

The study also found that overall, children's entres did not become healthier in the period studied, although fast-food restaurant entres were reported to be 40 calories lower, on average.

The study also specifically examined those entres that were added or reformulated between 2010 and 2011, and found no differences in calories. At family-style restaurants, new entrees at the 75th percentile (i.e., those at relatively higher sodium levels to start) were 70 mg lower in sodium in 2011, but even with those changes, entres at family-style restaurants are still far too high in sodium for anyone watching their sodium intake.

"Consumers need to be aware that when they step into a restaurant, they are playing a high-stakes game with th
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Contact: Helen Wu, Ph.D.
helen.wu@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-4096
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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