Restaurants Shave Calories Off New Menu Items : The Salt New menu items introduced by chain restaurants in 2013 contained 60 fewer calories, on average, than items on the menu in 2012. And that could be enough to make an impact on the obesity epidemic.
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Restaurants Shave Calories Off New Menu Items

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Restaurants Shave Calories Off New Menu Items

Restaurants Shave Calories Off New Menu Items

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Hearing a love story like that calls for a little comfort food. Now, if you're a person who counts the calories of the food you eat, chain restaurants want to keep your business. They are tweaking their menus, as NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: It's been about six years since the city of New York started a campaign called Read 'Em Before You Eat 'Em, urging New Yorkers to take note of calories posted on menus. And as that's happened, there have been lots of surprises; who knew that a Starbucks scone packs more than 400 calories or a Johnny Rockets double burger can top 1,700 calories?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGIE KOVACS: It's definitely made me change habits.

AUBREY: That's Georgie Kovacs, who was interviewed by the New York City News Service when the calorie posting rule went into effect.

KOVACS: Not eliminating restaurants completely, but definitely when I go to them, the choices that I'm making for sure.

AUBREY: And restaurants seem to be responding to their newly calorie-conscious customers. A new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds restaurant chains are cutting calories. Study author Sarah Bleich says their analysis compared thousands of menu items served at dozens of different chains in 2012 and 2013.

SARAH BLEICH: The newly introduced menu items have lower calories - about 60 lower on average, which is about a 12 percent decline.

AUBREY: So if you're a burger joint, you're not cutting calories from your signature menu items, say, a 550 calorie Big Mac. Instead chains are shaving calories from newer items, such as salads and drinks. Now, this may not sound like much, but Bleich argues it's an excess of fewer than 200 calories a day that contributes to obesity.

BLEICH: So if you can chip away at it by taking out about 60, that's noticeable and significant.

AUBREY: And as calorie counts start to appear on more menus nationwide, perhaps more of us will forego that 1,000-calorie pancake platter. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

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