STORIES in Agriculture and Life Sciences

Article Title

Food For Thought


Barbara McBreen


Informed consumers make healthier choices eating in or dining out. Understanding the nutritional content of food is important, says Lauren Mitchell, a senior in dietetics. She summarized current research as part of her "Fast Food Findings" presentation in a food science and human nutrition communications class. Mitchell found that about half of fast food restaurants provide customers with nutritional information, but not on the menu. She found that customers don't look at the nutritional information if it's not on the menu. In fact, the studies she reviewed showed that only six people out of 4,311 actually read the information posted on walls or the counter before ordering. Her solution- post the calorie content beside each menu item. "I think people will still eat out even if the calories posted, but they may choose smaller serving sizes," Mitchell says. The articles she reviewed indicated that most families choose fast food because it's convenient, inexpensive and they like the taste of the food. She also found that 25 percent of Americans eat out every day and spent 49 percent of their food budget outside the home in 2006.