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Higher-Calorie Menu Items Eliminated in Large Chain Restaurants

Published:December 11, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.11.004

      Introduction

      Large chain restaurants have reduced calories in their new menu items. No research has examined the calorie content of items eliminated from these menus.

      Methods

      Data are from the MenuStat project (2012–2015), which includes 66 of the 100 largest U.S. chain restaurants (n=27,238 items), to compare: (1) mean calories for items on the menu in all years compared with those dropped after 2012 and (2) mean calories for items new in 2013 or 2014 that stayed on the menu compared with items new in 2013 or 2014 that were dropped. The data were analyzed in 2016.

      Results

      Menu items that were dropped from the menu relative to those on the menu in all years had 71 more calories (p=0.02). New items that were dropped relative to new items that stayed on the menu had 52 more calories (p=0.04).

      Conclusions

      Items dropped from chain restaurant menus are significantly higher in calories than items that remain on the menu. Eliminating higher-calorie items from restaurant menus may have a significant and positive impact on population health by reducing calorie intake without relying on individual behavior, which is very resistant to change.
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