INTERNATIONAL -- Displaying kilojoules (calories) on restaurant and fast food menus can help trim the waist lines of frequent diners dramatically, an Australian study has found.
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New research has revealed people are more likely to choose the lighter option when they know exactly how many kilojoules (calories) are in their meal.
The study also found restaurants and fast food outlets that displayed kilojoule (calorie) information on their menus were more likely to offer their customers lower kilojoule (calorie) options.
The Australian research paper, one of the biggest of its kind, collated 227 studies globally on the effect displaying kilojoules (calories) on menus had on consumers and retailers.
The results found displaying kilojoule (calorie) information encouraged a reduction of 112 kilojoules (calories) per meal.
Women in the study showed a more significant response to kilojoule (calorie) reporting, consuming 251 kilojoules (calories) less per meal.
But it was overweight people that displayed the greatest behavioural change, with an average reduction of 347 kilojoules (calorie) per meal.
The recommended daily kilojoule (calorie) intake for adults is 8700 kilojoules (calories).
Lead researcher Dr Natalina Zlatevska from the University of Technology in Sydney said the added awareness surrounding food choices was especially important for those who ate out regularly.
“With more and more food dollars spent on meals purchased outside the home, anything we can do to educate consumers … is a good start,” Ms Zlatevska said.
Researchers concluded that although fast food outlets were often criticised for contributing to the growing rate of obesity in the population, food retailers could also be the key in helping curb the health crisis.
“The results of our study show that (the fast food environment) is well placed to constructively assist in the fight against obesity,” the research paper, to be published in the international Journal of Retailing read.
In Australia, displaying calorie information on menus is mandatory in NSW, SA, ACT and Queensland for food outlets and restaurant chains, with more than 20 stores in a state or 50 nationwide.
SOURCE Genevieve Alison, Herald Sun
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