Americans love fast food. In fact, we spend about $1,200 on it every year, and more than a third of our kids are eating fast food at least once a day. The problem? All those burgers, nachos, and chicken fingers are loaded with unhealthy fats and sugar—key factors behind rising obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates.
Calorie Displays Don’t Lead to Healthier Choices
Most fast food and chain restaurants have already started providing calorie information for their menu items. Initially, the idea was that offering calorie counts would help steer people toward healthier choices, but a new study reveals that plan is falling short of its goal.
New York University researchers found that only a very small number of fast food eaters make choices based on calorie displays—and that most don’t even notice them at all. It may be that simply providing the information isn’t enough, and that people need to understand why healthier choices are important. “The success of such a calorie-labeling campaign requires that target consumers simultaneously see the calorie labels, are motivated to eat healthfully, and understand how many calories they should be eating,” said lead author Andrew Breck.
Children’s Restaurant Meals Exceed Recommended Calories
Eating out this week? New research shows most children’s menu items far exceed the calorie count recommended by nutrition experts—in some cases by double and triple the amount—and portion sizes are also larger than healthy recommendations. These findings are important considering how many U.S. kids consume fast food on a daily basis. “Overeating—consuming more calories than are needed for normal growth and maintenance—is a very common problem and a key contributing factor to childhood obesity,” said lead author Deborah Cohen with the nonprofit research organization RAND.