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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kaiser Permanente Adds Calorie Information to Cafeteria Menus

We recently blogged about an effort in New York City that would force restaurants to post nutritional information about the food they serve. Now, following a UC Berkeley study of the issue, Kaiser Permanente has decided to add calorie and nutrition information to its hospital cafeteria menus. We think it's a step in the right direction.

In the Berkeley study, more than 500 cafeteria patrons were surveyed. When calorie information was posted directly on the menu boards, two-thirds of those surveyed noticed them; one-third of this group said that the information influenced their choices.

A co-author of the study feels that Kaiser's effort could make a serious difference in the long run. "Based on the changes we observed on patrons' lunch choices," she said, "this kind of intervention could prevent up to five pounds of unwanted weight gain per year, provided people don't compensate by eating more calories at other meals, or in other settings."

(Whether people actually found hospital cafeteria food appetizing, researchers couldn't say.)

Many chain restaurants have extensive nutrition information on their websites. For the low-down on fast food, check out our previous blog on the subject.

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