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Restaurant Calorie Counts Can Miss the Mark: Study
Date:7/19/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- In some states, it's already a requirement that restaurants with numerous locations must post the calorie counts of their foods. And, soon, federal law will require more restaurants across the country to provide such information to its patrons.

But, just how accurate are the calorie counts provided by restaurants?

That depends on where you eat. A new study that assessed foods from 42 restaurants -- including fast food places -- suggests that overall, the calorie counts are fairly accurate. But, the study also found that there was plenty of room left for improvement, especially in restaurants where you sit down to order your meal and for the foods classified as low calorie, such as salads.

"We did a random sampling of restaurant foods in three locations in the U.S., and included high- and low-calorie foods found at fast food and sit-down restaurants. The main finding of the study was that there was huge variation in how good the numbers for individual foods were, and in particular, foods listed as low-calorie," explained study author Susan Roberts, a scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

"We also found that sit-down restaurants were much worse in terms of being likely to give bad numbers than fast food places," she said.

In the restaurants overall, 19 percent of the foods -- almost one in five -- contained at least 100 more calories than what the menu stated. Of these foods, the 10 percent of the foods with the highest excess calories averaged more than 250 extra calories per food. One food item even had 1,000 calories more than what was listed on the menu, according to Roberts.

"And bear in mind, nobody eats just one food in a restaurant because of all the free sides, and perhaps drinks [and] desserts," Roberts continued.

While 100 extra calories in a day mig
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