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Menu labeling requirements lead to healthier options at chain restaurants
Date:7/19/2012

Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 2012 The recent Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has cleared the way for national requirements about posting nutritional information at chain restaurants. Listing calories, fat content, and sodium levels of menu items at the point of purchase has been promoted as a way to address the obesity epidemic. Increased awareness may lead to healthier consumer choices, and may encourage restaurants to adapt their menus to meet demand. A new study has evaluated the real-life impact of menu labeling in King County, Washington, after new regulations were implemented, and has found some improvement, although most entres continue to exceed recommended nutritional guidelines. The study is available online in advance of publication in the August issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"Frequent consumption of food away from home is associated with higher caloric intake and higher fat. As noted by the Food and Drug Administration, the cost of the obesity epidemic to families, businesses, and the government was over $117 billion in 2010," says lead investigator Barbara Bruemmer, PhD, RD, senior lecturer emeritus of the Program in Nutritional Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle. "All of these issues underscore the need for environmental approaches to help consumers who are looking for better options."

King County was one of the first jurisdictions to implement menu labeling, in January 2009. The regulations applied to any restaurant with 15 or more establishments in the United States and at least $1 million in annual sales. Dr. Bruemmer and her colleagues wanted to learn whether restaurants would improve their entres by reformulating items so that they had fewer calories and would replace some menu items with healthier alternatives.

The investigators audited menus at 11 sit-down restaurants and 26 quick-serve chains. The
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Contact: Eileen Leahy
andjrnlmedia@elsevier.com
732-238-3628
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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