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Do You Think Listing Calorie Counts on Restaurant Menus Is a Good Idea?

ABC News U.S. 2013/03/28 21:07:08
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Do restaurant menu calorie counts reflect reality? In the May 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, the magazine put popular dishes to the test to see who was telling the truth and who was off the mark.

CR visited restaurants in the New York tri-state area and picked up three samples per item. ”We weighed each of the samples, ground them so they would be uniform, and sent them to an outside laboratory for analysis,” said Ellen Klosz, program leader, Health & Consumer Science of Consumer Reports. When the results were returned, “We were pleasantly surprised that most of the menu items met their claims,” said Klosz.

Not every restaurant’s results were as accurate as they claimed. Olive Garden’s Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken was way over its 420 calorie, 15 grams of fat count. Instead, the dish had 508-585 calories and 25-32 grams of fat at three different locations.


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  • sglmom 2013/03/30 11:24:41
    No
    sglmom
    +8
    Here's a thought ..
    instead of assuming folks are dumb and can't bother ..
    to know the content of their meals ..

    how about just leaving this nonsense out ..
    and just letting ADULTS make their own choices ..
    and take PERSONAL Responsibility???

    (Best way to enjoy your food .. and know exactly what is in it .. is to cook the meal yourself in your own home. FAR healthier than eating out .. far more economical too)

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  • GaolBlaze 2013/04/22 18:54:31
    No
    GaolBlaze
    It's just enforcing the idea that calories are all that matter. If you really care about what you're eating, you'll know what's good for you and what is not by what it is, not a number beside it. If you REALLY want to inform people of what they're eating then have the whole breakdown - ingredients and all the rest. Calorie counting is just for superficial health care.
  • Skater Gurl! 2013/04/02 21:07:56
    Yes
    Skater Gurl!
    It sure it!
  • Lulu's Mom 2013/04/02 20:34:40
    Yes
    Lulu's Mom
    Yes, for those who feel the need to count them. I watch what I eat at home, and eat what I want when I go out. Which is not that often.
  • captainquiggle 2013/04/02 18:23:23
    Yes
    captainquiggle
    It's only right that people know what they're putting into their body. Why would anyone want to hide that from them? Does the public not have a right to know?
  • IzzyB 2013/04/02 15:19:58
    Yes
    IzzyB
    It's not going to stop me from ordering what I want but I do like to see how many calories are in the items.
  • Archer ~ The Limit Break of... 2013/04/02 15:01:58
    Yes
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    I wish more put up nutritional content - it makes it easier to go to restaurants and pick what I can eat.

    For those saying 'oh, if you're going to a restaurant to eat out, you're not going there to eat healthy' don't understand the situation.

    It's not just about those who want to eat healthy.

    Most people go out to eat to be SOCIAL. Those who want to eat healthy often have had to turn down their friends and eat alone. Same with diabetics, and those with any disorder that requires them to seriously watch any one (or more) aspect of the food they eat. They could not be social, like they wanted to, because their dietary restrictions prevented them from actually eating with their friends.

    Those on diets would never know 100% what they were actually eating. It makes sticking to the diet very difficult, and many would, like above, eat alone rather than eat with friends, just to stick to their diet.

    Now, with the new move to put calorie content (as well as carbohydrate, fat and protein totals) on menus make it possible for those who had rarely ever eaten out with their friends to become more social.

    It's about getting MORE people to go to your restaurant. And this certainly does that.

    For those who are going to these restaurants to not-watch what they eat, just ignore th...

    I wish more put up nutritional content - it makes it easier to go to restaurants and pick what I can eat.

    For those saying 'oh, if you're going to a restaurant to eat out, you're not going there to eat healthy' don't understand the situation.

    It's not just about those who want to eat healthy.

    Most people go out to eat to be SOCIAL. Those who want to eat healthy often have had to turn down their friends and eat alone. Same with diabetics, and those with any disorder that requires them to seriously watch any one (or more) aspect of the food they eat. They could not be social, like they wanted to, because their dietary restrictions prevented them from actually eating with their friends.

    Those on diets would never know 100% what they were actually eating. It makes sticking to the diet very difficult, and many would, like above, eat alone rather than eat with friends, just to stick to their diet.

    Now, with the new move to put calorie content (as well as carbohydrate, fat and protein totals) on menus make it possible for those who had rarely ever eaten out with their friends to become more social.

    It's about getting MORE people to go to your restaurant. And this certainly does that.

    For those who are going to these restaurants to not-watch what they eat, just ignore the calorie content, then, and enjoy as you normally would. For those of us with dietary needs and restrictions, we FINALLY can go out to restaurants without doing a ton of research beforehand.

    I like this new change.
    (more)
  • janet 2013/04/02 14:30:28
    Yes
    janet
    I wouldn't have an issue with seeing how many calories I will be taking in and a carb counter wouldn't be bad either.
    As it is when I go out to eat I ask for any high carb side dishes to be removed, like rice, frys, bread, chips.
    I order veggie or a salad with my lean protein meal.
  • Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover" 2013/04/02 14:27:35 (edited)
    No
    Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover"
    dur! it's obvious restaraunt food isn't very healthy,if you don't want to consume a bunch of caloroes,don't go out and eat! and don't be holding up the line or the waitress studying those stupid charts! or just have the frickin' salad!
  • Archer ... Ron Bur... 2013/04/02 15:03:13
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    Yeah. Don't go out with your friends and be social with them when they say 'hey, let's go out to ____ and gab a bit!'

    Ostracize yourself from your friends every time they want to eat out with you. I'm sure it'll make everyone involved very happy.
  • Ron Bur... Archer ... 2013/04/17 14:34:09
    Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover"
    i don't have any friends anyway,much less calorie counting ones.
  • Archer ... Ron Bur... 2013/04/17 19:09:36 (edited)
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    >.> that was a universal 'you'. And sarcastic.

    And I was referring to the speaker being the calorie-counting one, not those they're going out with.
  • Ron Bur... Ron Bur... 2013/04/02 20:27:09 (edited)
    Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover"
    would some people actually sue a place over an incorrect calorie count? wait,i bet they would! like the woman who sued conagra over spray butter
  • Ron Bur... Ron Bur... 2013/04/17 14:33:10
    Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover"
    should be up to the business owner,then again what IS up to the business owner these days?
  • bags the Indigenous Guru 2013/04/02 12:05:19
    Yes
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    Absolutely fantastic. I, personally, would LOVE it. If nothing else it's a great indicator of how the dish is prepared. Healthy meals are lower fat meals, which means lower caloric values. Check out what some off the meals offered by some of the restaurants (the worst offender is Cheesecake Factory, apparently):

    Cheesecake Factory crams into a single serving of its Crispy Chicken Costoletta a whopping 2,610 calories. More than any woman requires for an entire days intake. This chain’s menu also features 1500 calorie salads, 1100 calorie sandwiches and a Morning Quesadilla weighing in at 2020

    IHOP's Country Fried Steak & Eggs combo has 1,760 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, 3,720 milligrams of sodium and 11 teaspoons of added sugar.

    Johnny Rockets' Bacon Cheddar Double burger has 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. The chain's Big Apple Shake -- a milkshake that contains a slice of apple pie -- has 1,140 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat and about 13 teaspoons of added sugar. This meal delivers a total of 3,500 calories.

    The Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese at Uno Chicago Grill has 4 cups of pasta; Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano cheeses; an Alfredo sauce made from heavy cream, cheese, rendered chicken fat and butter; and a crushe...
    Absolutely fantastic. I, personally, would LOVE it. If nothing else it's a great indicator of how the dish is prepared. Healthy meals are lower fat meals, which means lower caloric values. Check out what some off the meals offered by some of the restaurants (the worst offender is Cheesecake Factory, apparently):

    Cheesecake Factory crams into a single serving of its Crispy Chicken Costoletta a whopping 2,610 calories. More than any woman requires for an entire days intake. This chain’s menu also features 1500 calorie salads, 1100 calorie sandwiches and a Morning Quesadilla weighing in at 2020

    IHOP's Country Fried Steak & Eggs combo has 1,760 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, 3,720 milligrams of sodium and 11 teaspoons of added sugar.

    Johnny Rockets' Bacon Cheddar Double burger has 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. The chain's Big Apple Shake -- a milkshake that contains a slice of apple pie -- has 1,140 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat and about 13 teaspoons of added sugar. This meal delivers a total of 3,500 calories.

    The Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese at Uno Chicago Grill has 4 cups of pasta; Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano cheeses; an Alfredo sauce made from heavy cream, cheese, rendered chicken fat and butter; and a crushed Ritz Cracker topping. It has a day's worth of calories at 1,980, three-and-a-half days' worth of saturated fat at 71 grams and two days' worth of sodium at 3,110 mg.
    (more)
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 15:04:18
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    Yet all of those restaurants also have more healthy fare to eat. They're catching on that not everyone that comes to their restaurant wants to eat a giant mouthful of lard.
  • Ron Bur... Archer ... 2013/04/02 15:05:37
    Ron Burgundy "Gentleman Lover"
    give me that bucket of lard glug! glug! glug!
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 15:18:04
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    The problem is in knowing what they are. It can be stunning how high calorie even what you'd suppose as being healthy, can be!

    Quizno's
    Chicken Caesar Flatbread Salad (with bread)
    920 calories

    Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad with Oriental Vinaigrette
    1,430 calories
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 15:29:36
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    Oh, I know. But a short stack of pancakes at Ihop, so long as you don't drown the suckers in syrup, isn't that bad.

    And if you know what the flabread salad is, try eating just half of it (at 460 calories) for a meal, and save the rest for the next day.

    There are tricks to it.
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 16:38:37
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    But, you have to know that those calories are there so that you can regulate whether or not you can eat the full meal or not. And that short stack can make a BIG difference to someone with Diabetes or hypoglycemia - however, they know that this is a high caloric/glycemic food. That's a given.
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 16:41:50
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    Well yes. But that's why I said that it's a GOOD thing they're listing the calories.

    I was only commenting that each of those restaurants (even cheesecake factory) have healthier options if you look for them. ^__^
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 16:55:39
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    LOL...we seem to b talking cross-purpose here. I agree with you. My point was that without this information you may not be able to even tell what those healthier options are. Many times I poured over a menu, selected what I thought was the best/healthiest choice, only to later find out it was possibly one of the worst choices.
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 17:07:18
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    I always look at the ingredients themselves - especially in a 'salad'.

    Crispy chicken or grilled? Marinated - ask the wait staff what it's marinated in. Cheese - if so, how much and what kind? What vegetables are in it - and are they grilled, breaded, fried.... ? Are there other crispy things like bacon, wantons, etc...? Avoid those. Eggs - can I easily remove the yolk and just have the whites when I'm served, or did they crumble it all up? Avocado - how much of it? Yes it's healthy, but it also packs a caloric punch.

    And of course, the matter of dressings. Creamy is usually 200 calories per 2 tbsp. Vinaigrette tends to be about 100 calories for 2 tbsp or less. Straight up vinegars are about 40-60 calories for the same hit.

    There's a restaurant by us called Big Fish that had a winter salad that was perfect:

    baby greens
    red onion slivers (raw, not fried or even sauteed)
    blood orange pieces
    pomegranate seeds
    a few nut bits (walnut or almond, I can't remember, but there weren't many of these)
    and a small wheel of lightly breaded, pan-fried goat cheese (about 80 calories of cheese, and another 20-30 in coating).

    All with a very light cranberry vinaigrette, if memory serves me right. The calorie hits were the nuts and the cheese, but these were done sparingly - just enough to pr...

    I always look at the ingredients themselves - especially in a 'salad'.

    Crispy chicken or grilled? Marinated - ask the wait staff what it's marinated in. Cheese - if so, how much and what kind? What vegetables are in it - and are they grilled, breaded, fried.... ? Are there other crispy things like bacon, wantons, etc...? Avoid those. Eggs - can I easily remove the yolk and just have the whites when I'm served, or did they crumble it all up? Avocado - how much of it? Yes it's healthy, but it also packs a caloric punch.

    And of course, the matter of dressings. Creamy is usually 200 calories per 2 tbsp. Vinaigrette tends to be about 100 calories for 2 tbsp or less. Straight up vinegars are about 40-60 calories for the same hit.

    There's a restaurant by us called Big Fish that had a winter salad that was perfect:

    baby greens
    red onion slivers (raw, not fried or even sauteed)
    blood orange pieces
    pomegranate seeds
    a few nut bits (walnut or almond, I can't remember, but there weren't many of these)
    and a small wheel of lightly breaded, pan-fried goat cheese (about 80 calories of cheese, and another 20-30 in coating).

    All with a very light cranberry vinaigrette, if memory serves me right. The calorie hits were the nuts and the cheese, but these were done sparingly - just enough to provide flavor without weighing the salad down.

    All in all, I'd put the salad at about 300-400 calories, and it was of a moderate size. If I'd avoided the cheese, it'd be 200-300.
    (more)
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 17:15:23
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    My thoughts....now I'm hungry. Big Fish, eh? Wonder if they're local..... Thanks!!!!
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 17:19:51
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    There are two Big Fish in the nation, luckily one is near me.
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 17:32:00
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    And not near me :(
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 19:43:35
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    sorry. I'll try to get a complete list of the ingredients just to make sure I'm not forgetting something, and you can always try to make it yourself. It was so delicious....
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 22:37:13
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 23:30:22
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    Sadly, I can't find anything.

    But I can tell you it's mostly like how I mention above.

    A large bed of baby greens - VERY varied
    Pomegranate seeds - about 1/4 cup
    A single, relatively small blood orange, cut in half, then those into quarters (so you get 8ths in the salad. I forget if it was 4 of these or 8 though)
    Thinly sliced fennel
    A pinch or two of crushed up walnuts (very, very crushed)

    On the side of the salad: A wheel of goat cheese only slightly wider around than the old 70's style silver dollars (so pretty small, but not so small it won't satisfy) and about 1/4" thick, lightly pressed into breading and *lightly* pan-fried on either side

    Drizzle over that a light cranberry pomegranate vinaigrette and toss lightly.
    Best bite: cutting a small piece of the warm cheese off, then gently combining a little of everything onto the fork. YUM.


    SO delicious.
  • bags th... Archer ... 2013/04/02 23:31:52
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +1
    Thanks Archer, going shopping in the morning!!!!
  • Archer ... bags th... 2013/04/02 23:33:37
    Archer ~ The Limit Break of PHAET
    +1
    I want to make it again, myself! It's a winter salad, so sadly I won't be able to get it anymore there. I'll miss it - I do hope they'll bring it back next year.

    But at least I know what was in it. So I can make it again. Mmmm... THAT, if I must say, is how you make a winter salad!
  • sαиѕ sσℓєιℓ~ 2013/04/02 11:56:31
    Yes
    sαиѕ sσℓєιℓ~
    That's be great, and would help people who want to lose weight a lot.
  • kimmie 2013/04/02 02:26:56
    Yes
    kimmie
    +1
    It is very helpful !
  • findthelight2000 2013/04/02 00:22:04
    Yes
    findthelight2000
    +1
    Most certainly. They will be the restaurants that people prefer to eat at too.
  • Cedric 2013/04/01 20:21:12
    Yes
    Cedric
    +1
    Definitely.
  • Kaleokualoha 2013/04/01 19:54:02
    Yes
    Kaleokualoha
    +1
    The article suggests that most variations in calorie counts are due to variations in portion size. This is perfectly reasonable for regular restaurants, unlike fast food restaurants that pre-package individual servings such as burgers.
  • disclaimer 2013/04/01 17:55:00
  • Veritas 2013/04/01 17:37:05
    Yes
    Veritas
    +2
    Yes. It definitely has influenced my dining experience.
  • Party of One 2013/04/01 16:35:42
    Yes
    Party of One
    +2
    It's not a bad idea. I

    'd like to see you post a survey asking if we'd like to see nutritional statements under at least the main meals, preferrably any dish they sell. I'm more concerned with what's in what they serve than how many calories per serving / weight unit.
  • John T. 2013/04/01 15:31:46
    Yes
    John T.
    +2
    Diabetics and health conscience people search out and patronize restraints that provide health related information.
    It pay to advertise.
  • wes 2013/04/01 15:15:52
    Yes
    wes
    +1
    Anybody that's offended by it probably shouldn't be eating.......
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