New Chain-Restaurant Items Lower in Calories
If you’re worried about calories when eating out at a chain restaurant, ask what’s new. A recent analysis of nearly 20,000 menu items from 66 of the largest US chain eateries found that newer choices tended to contain fewer calories than the chains’ old standbys. That could be a reflection, researchers speculated, of restaurant companies’ concerns over federal rules requiring them to disclose calorie counts on menus. On average, new menu items such as wraps, salads and grilled chicken contained nearly 60 fewer calories—a 12% difference. Overall calories didn’t change, however, nor did the calories in companies’ core products, such as the hamburgers at burger chains or pizzas at pizza restaurants.
Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins University noted that about a third of US adults and children eat at fast-food and other chain restaurants on any given day. Though consumers aren’t being made aware of it, they added, “some things they might purchase are just a little bit lower-calorie.”