Calorie counts on menus apparently don’t help folks lose much weight. Buzz60’s Sean Dowling has more.
Calorie counts help curb diners’ appetites for less healthy options, but not by much.
The good news: Menu labels including calorie information were shown to reduce the amount people ate. Now, for the bad news: Calorie counts on restaurant menus would, on average, cause a consumer to lose just 1 pound over the span of 3 years, according to a new working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research organization in Cambridge, Mass.
Calorie counting only reduced the calorie intake by 44.9 calories per meal, or just 3%. What’s more, while diners consumed fewer calories during the appetizer and entrée courses when they had calorie counts, there was no statistically significant difference in the calories consumed with drinks or dessert.
“Noting that calorie reductions on the order of 6 percent at chain restaurants would yield only modest decreases in body weight, the researchers suggest that the direct effect of calorie posting on U.S. obesity may be small. The most meaningful effect of the calorie posting law may be its long-run impact on menu choices, as restaurants will have an economic incentive to offer low-calorie options. The new policy may also benefit public health as consumers grow accustomed to counting calories and choose or demand healthier foods.
The study also explores how calorie posting affected corporate profits. The authors find that it did not cause any significant change in Starbucks overall revenue. At Starbucks stores located within 100 meters of a Dunkin Donuts store, revenue actually increased by 3 percent suggesting that calorie posting may have caused some consumers to substitute away from Dunkin Donuts toward Starbucks.”