Monday, March 30, 2009

Pretty much nobody checks fast food calories.

One of the arguments that Big Food puts forward against mandatory calorie labeling is that many restaurants already have in-store brochures or online listings of calories.

Ever wonder how many people look at them?

Well wonder no more as a study published in the American Journal of Public Health set out to answer that very question.

The study was pretty straight forward. Researchers observed 4,311 people buying food at McDonald's, Burger King, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks to see how many of them looked at those respective restaurants' in-store (but not on menu) nutritional information. In order to be counted all you would have had to do is, walked up to a nutritional information poster and turned their head toward it, picked up a pamphlet, or touched the screen of the computer in Au Bon Pain that displays nutritional information.

So out of 4,311 people want to guess how many checked?


6 out of 4,311 people - 0.1%.

Guess the argument that so long as it's in-store it doesn't need to be on-menu's out the window.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Well, I guess that's why they call it "fast food". Consumers are only interested in getting their food in a hurry, eating, and getting on with their day. Sad!
    I've probably eaten in such establishments less than 10 times in my life was NEVER impressed.
    I will continue to eat from my own kitchen, where I know how the food was prepared, especially now that I have adopted the low-carb lifestyle and love it.
    Perhaps this is just one more reason why we Americans are so overweight?????

  2. I DO check these, but not every time I go into one of these establishments. Once I've determined some good choices at a particular venue, I just order those choices the other times I go.

  3. I usually know the info before I go to the restaurant (either find it online before I go or already know the info from the last time I was there), so I wouldn't be counted either...but I do know what I'm putting in my mouth.

  4. I'm glad to be one of the six! It's a shame more people don't do it.

  5. That's interesting. I think most people going in do NOT care about nutrition of that meal... thus the fast food...but personally I always check online before I go. I think a lot of people probably do that. Would be interesting to see what percentage of orders were "healthy" items versus the grease-laden stuff.

  6. Anonymous1:30 pm

    How about nutritional info on your phone? Check out GoodGuide: With an iPhone application, or mobile phone text messaging, you can search and browse to see the health, enviro, and social impacts of food and thousands of other products.

  7. Anonymous2:28 pm

    Maybe this is just because people who are actually calorie conscious are not eating at these establishments. Or, they have already researched in advance (online) which menu items are less caloric.

    Healthy eaters tend to cook for themselves or avoid fast food places all together.

  8. Anonymous4:08 pm

    Nutrition information is the first thing I look for, but it's rarely posted where I can see it and often the cashiers don't provide me with it when I ask. At an A&W in the mall, I asked the cashier for a nutrition guide and they said, "you mean, like allergies and stuff?"

    I usually check online first.

    P.S. I like following your blog - I'm not at all in the medical field (I'm an English major), but I find the information helpful.

  9. This might be different where I live, but McDonalds have calorie and macro count printed right there on the wrapping paper. I just assumed they did that everywhere.