Calorie labeling may be prompting healthier restaurant meals

Newer dishes served by large restaurant chains tend to have fewer calories than items that have been on the menu for a while, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

First author Anna Grummon, a research fellow in nutrition, and colleagues found that restaurant offerings introduced after calorie labeling went into effect in 2018 contained an average of 25% fewer calories than items introduced earlier. The Affordable Care Act contains a provision requiring that restaurant chains with 20 or more U.S. locations post calorie counts.

“The nationwide rollout of these calorie labels appeared to prompt restaurants to introduce lower-calorie items to their menus,” Grummon said in a January 4, 2022 article in HealthDay.

The researchers analyzed the calories of more than 35,300 menu items offered by 59 large restaurant chains in the U.S. between 2012 and 2019.

“These labels are giving consumers information about foods they might want to order that was not easy to access before the law,” she said. “Folks can decide how they want to use that information to meet their health goals.”

Read the HealthDay article: Did Adding Calorie Counts to Restaurant Menus Make Meals Healthier?