October 24, 2021

Surprise! Most Americans Ignore Calorie Count of Fast Food Meals

Most Americans ignore calorie information posted at fast food restaurants, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health. Only about one third of fast food diners read calorie information before ordering, researches found, raising questions about how calorie information can be presented in more effective ways.

Fast Food RestaurantThe research team, led by Holly Wethington, a behavioral scientist at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included, epidemiologist Leah M. Maynard; Christine Haltiwanger, doctoral candidate from the Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens; and Heidi M. Blanck, chief of the Obesity Prevention and Control Branch the CDC.  They used the 2009 HealthStyles survey to perform a cross-sectional analysis on a sample of 4,363 U.S. adults to evaluate the use of available calorie information when ordering at fast-food and chain restaurants.

They found that only 36.4 percent of those surveyed used calorie information. Of those, 95.4 percent said they use the information at least sometimes.

The use of calorie information was not related to race, ethnicity, income or education, researchers found.  Women were more likely than men to use the information.  Frequent fast food customers, those who eat at fast food or chain restaurants three or more times each week, were the less likely to use calorie information than those who ate at fast food eat out at those restaurants less than four times per month.


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