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Are Fast Food Restaurants Pulling A Fast One With Menu Changes?
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Are Fast Food Restaurants Pulling A Fast One With Menu Changes?

Back in 2008, New York City passed a law which required that all fast food restaurants and chains to have their calorie and other content information clearly posted in all establishments. A new study, which is being published in the British Medical Journal is taking a look at how that law has impacted diners . That study which looked at customers and their food choices for a full year before the law was enacted and then again for nine months afterward found that while the changes were not huge, there were some improvements overall., with one in six diners choosing to go for the lower calorie food items. Diners opted for lower fat, lower calorie options that saved them from between 44 to 80 calories in all of the restaurants with the exception of Subway. That chain, which cites the $5 footlong promotion as the cause, saw significant increases in the number of calories for food choices during the same time period. But, a spokesman for the chain reminds the researchers, some people choose to buy the bargain foot long sub and eat only half for one meal, saving the other half for another meal, possibly even for another day.

Advocates are calling the menu changes a step in the right direction, allowing people to have a better sense of control over what they are eating. Other positive changes, like allowing bottled water to be substituted in place of soda and offering other side dishes are also a plus. Applebee’s, as well as other restaurants are doing their part by offering entire menus where the foods are all below a certain calorie count.

A second study which also looked at the 2008 law said that it had zero impact on the foods that are being eaten by children. McDonalds recently announced that it is changing its trademark Happy Meal, halving the size of the french fries and automatically adding apple slices regardless. Apple slices and a small portion of caramel have been offered for several years, but only as an option to replace french fries. Managers of most of the chain’s franchises admit that they do not see the apples going out in place of the fries very often. While US stores will be adding in apple slices, McDonalds in Canada will be adding in a small yogurt as well as the smaller size fry. All stores have reported that the pricing plans will probably remain the same for the Happy Meal.

Pediatricians looked at the children’s menus from a number of popular fast food chains and found that only 3% of the choices met the standards that are used for the National School Lunch Program for children in Kindergarten to third grade. Of the others, 65% were too high in fat, 75% were too low in calcium, 82% too low in iron and 85% did not have enough Vitamin A. Changes are being made, both with national school lunches and fast food menus, especially for children.


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