The American people have spoken (well at least the advocates for better health and nutrition have spoken out) and have been heard by the major fast food chains. In an October 8, 2014 article from Books Hays published in the UPI stated that, “according to a recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in 2013, America’s fast food chains added new menu items with fewer calories than newcomers in years past.
Researchers analyzed the menus of 66 of the top 100 fast food chains, restaurants ranging from drive-through staples like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Arby’s, to the slightly slower-paced fast-casual outlets like Panera and Chipotle. The new lower-calorie options have mostly found their way into the salad and sandwich subsections of chain restaurant menus.
On average, items added to the menu in 2013 were 60 calories lighter than those added in 2012. The new lower-calorie options have mostly found their way into the salad and sandwich subsections of chain restaurant menus. In other words, at fast food joints that specialize in a certain type of fare (think burgers or fried chicken), calorie shaving isn’t happening among core menu items, the section where eaters find double-cheese burgers, a bucket of chicken thighs or loaded onion rings. Still, progress is progress, and researchers suggest even modest gains like eating 60 fewer calories each meal could slowly put a dent in obesity rates.
“We don’t know if they decreased the portion sizes or altered the nutrient composition,” study leader Sara Bleich, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, told the Boston Globe told. “Likely, it was a combination of the two.” The study was published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
So, is this a trend or a fad? The answer is a little of both. The fad is jumping on board when public opinion at an all time high regarding healthful food choices. The trend is that these companies are looking for good momentum to garner another piece of this underserved market.
Undoubtedly, you have seen more and more vegan restaurants putting down roots in your local communities, as well as seeing your favorite eating establishments putting in more healthful selections and addressing the needs of the gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free growing consumer market places.
The vast majority of Americans are still wildly addicted to sugar, salt and fat. That will take years to change, but we have seen the start of change comings front and center. Some food analyst and public health officials see this as a battle of the food choices. Will the savor-sweet market demand beat out the healthful choices? The one thing tipping the scales in the direction of the savor-sweet side is the fact that healthful eating is significantly more expensive then their opponent. In the end, will the cost fact be the final determinant? Only time will write that story.