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Eating Out Holds Greater Promise for Better Health

Posted Sep 13 2012 10:33am

Since eating out accounts for nearly one-third of daily calories for many Americans, making informed meal choices has become critical for anyone aiming to being healthy.

While a few states have passed laws requiring that nutrient content of menu items be displayed, this transparency of meal calorie, fat and fiber content is becoming a necessity, and with it a growing offering of more healthful options.

Photo: ABC News

Even McDonald’s sees the value in providing a wider array of options that are healthy, appealing, and competitively priced. The largest fast food corporation in the world is leading the effort by voluntarily placing calorie counts on its menu boards and drive-through menus.  McDonald’s joins national restaurant chains such as Penara Bread and Au Bon Pain who are already posting calorie contents on their menus.

This is great news since there are studies that demonstrate that calorie labeling is encouraging consumers to select lower calorie items when eating out.  And, with public scrutiny of nutrient contents of menu items, is a trend toward changes in the menus to offer more nutritionally favorable options.

The obvious next step is for the Food and Drug Administration to build on this positive change by issuing final menu labeling rules that require public posting of nutritional contents of items in vending machines, prepared items sold at supermarkets, convenience stores, and movie theaters so that the playing field for informed decision-making is consistent for all prepared foods available outside the home.

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