Restaurant patrons hungry for nutritional information: Study
Consumers want to make healthier food choices and putting nutritional information on restaurant menus would help them with those decisions, a new study shows.
University of Toronto researchers surveyed more than 3,000 people and the vast majority want to see calorie and salt information when they dine out.
Research shows that diners with access to nutrition information on menus were able to make informed choices, saving up to 474 calories and 1360 mg of sodium per meal.
While the totals vary depending on age and sex, Health Canada guidelines recommends people consume around 2,000 calories and 2,300 mg of sodium a day.
“These findings show that Canadians want to see nutrition information on restaurant menus and that having this information will help them make healthier choices,” said Mary Scourboutakos, a doctoral student in U of T’s department of nutritional studies.
“Legislation that only requires disclosure of calorie information may be a missed opportunity to address the high sodium levels in restaurant foods.”
Queen’s Park has tabled bills requiring menus have calorie, nutrient and sodium information. However, none have made it into law even though they had the support of Toronto Public Health, the Ontario Medical Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
Sodium in diets can cause hypertension, which can be a risk factor for death.
In the U.S., some states have laws that require calorie counts, but sodium information isn’t required.
“Sodium levels in restaurant meals continue to be alarmingly high — and considering the well-documented health risks of excessive dietary sodium, we think there is an urgent need for legislation that requires both calorie and sodium information on restaurant menus,” said Mary L’Abbe, senior author on the study.
L’Abbe says up to 30% of diners at fast food take-outs and sit-down restaurants changed their orders after seeing nutrition information on menus.
She added sodium levels were the main reason for changing the meal order.
“Given the high levels of calories and sodium in restaurant foods, alongside the prevalence of eating out, and growing rates of diet-related disease, we hope our results will spur legislation that will help improve the health of Canadians,” Scourboutakos said.
via Toronto Sun