December 10, 2012

Portland: Calorie counts on menus lead to healthier choices

One in two women and one in four men who notice the calorie info change their minds, usually by picking a lower-calorie item.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Posting calorie counts on menus has helped the customers of nearly a dozen Portland restaurants make healthier choices, the city said in a press release Monday.

City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said the city surveyed 367 customers in August and September who had eaten at a restaurant participating in its "Smart Meals for Me" program, which works with local restaurants to analyze their menus and post calorie information.

The release said one in two women and one in four men who noticed the calorie information changed their minds, mostly choosing a lower calorie item. Seventy-seven percent of customers said calorie information should be displayed on the menu.

"As a community, we need to pursue policies and strategies that help us live healthy, active lives," Mayor Michael Brennan said in a written statement. "Posting accurate nutritional information is an easy, effective way for diners to make informed decisions about what they want to eat and the survey results confirmed people want to know."

Maine is currently the most obese state in New England with 25 percent of children and 58 percent of adults in Cumberland County being overweight or obese, the release states.

The Smart Meals for Me program was funded by a $1.8 million federal, anti-obesity grant that expired in March.

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