Survey: Diners – Especially Women – Using Posted Menu Calories

If you spot calorie information on your restaurant menu, does it help you decide what to order?http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-woman-ordering-food-image21147851

For about six of every ten adults living in select states, that calorie information does help them decide what to order. At least sometimes, that is, with about one of every ten diners using that nutrition information for every purchase, according to a new government survey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study comes from residents of 17 states that have menu labeling and completed a 2012 phone survey about it. In 2010, a federal law required chain restaurants to display the calories of their menu items, and some states started those requirements quickly.  Given that some studies show Americans eat up to a quarter of our calories at restaurants, using calorie information may help restaurant-goers make healthier choices. That, in turn, can reduce cancer risk.

Respondents were only counted if they visited fast food or chain restaurants and noticed the menu labeling. Among the findings: Continue reading


Saving 500 Fast Food Calories: 8 Tips for Healthier Options

Sometimes you may just need the convenience of a fast food restaurant. As a study highlighted in today’s Cancer Research Update points out, you’ll be faced with more choices than ever. One of the study’s findings was that consumers had over 50 percent more menu items in 2010 to choose from compared to 14 years earlier.

So if you’re watching your calories to maintain a healthy weight – which reduces your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases – here are eight tips to help you quickly navigate the abundance of options. In just one visit, it’s not hard to save 500 calories or more in one visit, while making your meal more nutritious.

1. Avoid entrees that top the list in calories and fat
Estimated Calories Saved: 350-500
McDonald’s: Order a cheeseburger (300 calories, 12 g fat) instead of the Cheddar Bacon Onion Third Pounder (790 calories, 41 grams of fat)

Taco Bell: Go for the Fresco Steak Burrito Supreme® (340 calories and 9 g of fat) instead of the XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito Beef (880 calories, 42 grams of fat) Continue reading


Soothing Setting May Help You Eat Less

If a nice restaurant beckons you to linger with comfortable music and lighting, it seems likely you might order more food and eat more. Not so, according to a new study. It turns out, somewhat surprisingly, diners in a relaxed environment spend more time at the restaurant but eat fewer calories while enjoying their food more.

The study was published in Psychological Reports and co-authored by Cornell University researcher Brian Wansink, an expert in how environmental cues affect our eating habits.

Previous research has shown music and lighting influence how long diners stay in a restaurant or store. The bright lights and noise typical of many fast food restaurants leads to eating relatively quickly, for example.

Wansink and his colleague hypothesized that a relaxed atmosphere would lead to longer meals, ordering more food and eating more. They set about testing how environmental cues influence diners by using two restaurant settings with contrasting atmospheres.

The researchers started with a fast-food restaurant (Hardees) that had two separate sections. One area they left unchanged, complete with bright lights, colors and loud music. The second area was given a fine dining makeover: complete with soundproofing, soft lighting, plants, candles, white tablecloths, and jazz.

Then about 60 diners were randomly seated in one of the two settings. Continue reading