Chain restaurants have been promoting healthful menu options — such as Burger King’s recent low-cal French fries launch. But a recent study shows that entrees overall haven’t changed much at the top U.S. chains.
“Restaurant menus did not get any healthier over time,” says Helen Wu, one of the researchers whose study appears Tuesday in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
That’s not to say that consumers can’t find items that have fewer calories, or less fat, sodium or sugar. But it’s been a one-step-forward-and-one-step-back process, says Wu, a policy and research analyst at the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System.
She and colleague Roland Sturm, senior economist at the Rand Corp., looked at menus from 2010 and from 2011 using restaurant websites for nutrition information. They evaluated changes to more than 26,000 entrees at 213 chain restaurants.