Duke Study Examines Caloric Info In Fast Food Chains’ Online Menus

Aug 21, 2013

A new study looks at the availability of caloric information from fast food restaurants online.
Credit jasonlam via Flickr, Creative Commons

Many of the nation's largest restaurants chains are making calorie information available on menus online, according to new research out of Duke University. Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates the information be provided on all in-store menus for chains with more than 20 stores. Lead author of the study Gary Bennett is an associate professor psychology, neuroscience, and global Health at Duke, and he says there are huge variations on how caloric and other nutritional content is presented to consumers.

“Even though we have a standard label for food packaging, no such standards exist online,” Bennett says. “There's just massive variability there. And so we don't know how useful this info is for consumers as they're trying to make purchasing decisions before they go into restaurants.”

Bennett advocates all restaurants make calorie information available online. He believes consumers make decisions about what to order before they get into a restaurant. The study is published in the current online edition of the Journal PLOS ONE.