Navigation Links
Despite menu changes, calorie and sodium levels in chain restaurant entrees remain the same overall
Date:9/30/2013

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Although a number of chain restaurants have announced healthy menu changes over the years, the overall calorie and sodium levels in main entres offered by top U.S. chain restaurants assessed from 2010 to 2011 have remained the same, according to a study published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study, "Changes in the Energy and Sodium Content of Main Entres in U.S. Chain Restaurants from 2010 to 2011," evaluated the nutritional content changes of more than 26,000 regular menu entres in a year by 213 major U.S. chain restaurants nationwide. It also looked at entres among restaurants that included children's menus.

"Restaurant menus did not get any healthier over time," said Helen Wu, a policy and research analyst at the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System.

Between the spring of 2010 and spring of 2011, Wu and Roland Sturm, senior economist at the RAND Corp., reviewed restaurant websites for nutrition information. They found that, even with all the substitutions and reformulations eateries made to their menus, restaurants made no meaningful nutrition changes overall. The average entre in 2010 contained 670 calories and remained at 670 calories one year later. Sodium levels only dropped from 1,515 milligrams per entre to 1,500 milligrams at follow-up.

"Across the restaurant industry, we see a pattern of one step forward, one step back," Wu said. "Restaurants make changes to their menus regularly, but they may make both healthy and unhealthy changes simultaneously. This study provides objective evidence that overall, we did not see a new wave of healthier entres come in to replace less healthy ones."

The study was conducted at a time when restaurants faced ongoing internal and external pressures to increase healthier menu offerings. For example, the study examined restaurant menu changes in the year following passage of a federal menu-labeling mandate, which was passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. More than three years later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued final regulations directing chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus, though some restaurants, such as McDonald's, have already started posting calorie counts on their menu boards.

Americans consume approximately one-third of their total calories and spend half of their food budget eating away from home. Yet restaurant menu offerings do not encourage healthy eating.

This new study is a follow up to an earlier Wu and Sturm study, published online in May 2012 by the journal Public Health Nutrition, which found 96 percent of entres by top U.S. chain restaurants failed to meet daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Within individual restaurant brands, a few brands did significantly lower the average calorie or sodium levels of their main entres, but some brands significantly increased them. The vast majority of restaurant brands did not have significantly different calorie or sodium levels for their main entres.

The study also found that overall, children's entres did not become healthier in the period studied, although fast-food restaurant entres were reported to be 40 calories lower, on average.

The study also specifically examined those entres that were added or reformulated between 2010 and 2011, and found no differences in calories. At family-style restaurants, new entrees at the 75th percentile (i.e., those at relatively higher sodium levels to start) were 70 mg lower in sodium in 2011, but even with those changes, entres at family-style restaurants are still far too high in sodium for anyone watching their sodium intake.

"Consumers need to be aware that when they step into a restaurant, they are playing a high-stakes game with their health by making dietary choices from menus that are loaded with high-calorie, high-sodium options," Wu said. "This is a game that health-conscious consumers have a very low chance of winning, given the set of menu offerings available in U.S. chain restaurants today."

More change could be seen with a longer-term study, and after the federal menu labeling requirement of the Affordable Act Care is implemented, but multiple strategies will be needed to make progress on restaurant menu nutrition.

"The implementation of a national menu labeling law could be an important strategy to accelerate progress on menu nutrition in restaurants by encouraging more substantial menu nutrition changes," Wu said.

"Maybe some more encouragement is needed, as in the Choose Health LA Restaurants program that the Department of Public Health started in September," Sturm said. "Restaurants participating can post a large decal in their window if they offer smaller portion sizes and healthier children's meals with less fried food and more fruits and vegetables."

In the United States, 82 percent of adults eat out at least once a week. Previous research has shown that increased consumption of food away from home is associated with increased consumption of calories, fat and sodium. Currently, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.


'/>"/>

Contact: Helen Wu, Ph.D.
helen.wu@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-4096
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Despite health benefits, most children and adults have a nutrition gap in omega-3 fatty acids
2. Rise in sodium intake in US over last decade despite health officials call for reduction
3. Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports
4. Weight counseling decreases despite rise in obesity
5. Teens susceptible to hepatitis B infection despite vaccination as infants
6. Despite their thick skins, alligators and crocodiles are surprisingly touchy
7. Populations survive despite many deleterious mutations
8. Secret soil cracks linger, despite surface sealing
9. Land use changes, housing demographics shift in Washington State
10. Combo-snacks of cheese and vegetables cut kids calories
11. Gladstone scientists discover novel mechanism by which calorie restriction influences longevity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016 The field of Human Microbiome ... most popular hubs of the biotechnology industry. While ... studies of human microbiota, have garnered a lot ... microbiome space has literally exploded in terms of ... report focuses on biomedical aspects of research, development, ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016 ... the "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market ... Others), Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition ... Regions - Global forecast to 2020" ... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Technology Enhancements Accelerate Growth of X-ray Imaging ... and computed radiography markets in Thailand ... Indonesia (TIM). It provides an in-depth analysis ... as regional market drivers and restraints. The study offers ... market attractiveness, both for digital and computed radiography. Market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... ORLANDO, Florida , February 11, 2016 ... Populations and Promote Genetic Understanding to Support Research and Discovery ... consortium, GenomeAsia 100K, today announced an ambitious plan to sequence ... 12 South Asian countries and at least 7 of North ... --> In the first phase, the project will focus ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ATLANTA , Feb. 11, 2016  Spectra BioPharma ... Organization (CSO) that provides biopharma companies the experience, ... implement and deploy outsourced sales teams. Created in ... team addresses both the strategic and tactical needs ... innovative sales solutions through both personal and non-personal ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... BioInformant announces the February 2016 release of its ... and Technologies – Market Size, Segments, Trends, and Projections ... The first and only market research firm ... more than a decade of historical information on all ... type. This powerful 175 page global strategic report contains ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Early-career researchers from Indonesia ... Uganda and Yemen ... Indonesia , Nepal , ... Yemen are being honored for their accomplishments in nutrition, psychiatry, ... mentoring young women scientists who are pursuing careers in agriculture, biology and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: