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STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00AM EST THURSDAY May 23, 2013; Calorie Information in Fast Food Restaurants Used by 40% of 9-18 Year Olds when Making Food Choices, Study Finds
Date:5/22/2013

New York, NY (PRWEB) May 22, 2013

A new study published online today (Thursday) in the Journal of Public Health has found that of young people who visited fast food or chain restaurants in the U.S. in 2010, girls and youth who were obese were more likely to use calorie information given in the restaurants to inform their food choices. It also found that young people eating at fast food or chain restaurants twice a week or more were half as likely to use calorie information as those eating there once a week or less.

Childhood obesity has tripled in recent decades. One potential contributing factor is fast food, which is generally higher in calories, salt, and fat than home-cooked food. To help consumers make informed decisions while eating out, policies requiring restaurants to provide calorie and other nutritional information at the point of sale have been passed in some U.S. jurisdictions. A U.S. federal law that requires restaurants with at least 20 locations nationally to list calorie information next to menu items, and to place prominent information about suggested daily calorific intake on menus has been written into law, but has not yet been implemented.

Dr. Holly Wethington and colleagues of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, studied a sample of 721 American youth aged 9 to 18 years through mail surveys in Autumn 2010. Respondents were asked, “When calorie information is available at a fast food/chain restaurant, how often does this information help you decide what to order?” They were also asked for their age, gender, height, weight, and how often they ate in fast food/chain restaurants.

The sample had a higher proportion of boys (56.4%) and a higher proportion of respondents were aged 12-14 years (32.2%). Most youth had a healthy weight as assessed by BMI (65.8%), while 13.3% were classified as obese. Of those who reported e
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