Menu-Labeling on the Rise, but Americans Seek More than Just Calorie-Count When Dining Out

National Survey Reveals 65 percent of Americans Prefer Nutritional Information Over Calorie Count

National Survey Reveals 65 percent of Americans Prefer Nutritional Information Over Calorie Count
National Survey Reveals 65 percent of Americans Prefer Nutritional Information Over Calorie Count

When dining out, 65 percent of Americans prefer to see nutritional information on a restaurant menu over calories alone. As several cities around the country adapt to menu-labeling mandates that require restaurants to post calorie-counts on their menu, it is yet to be determined if it will have the desired impact on consumer behavior and therefore overall public health. In fact, according to a new Guiding Stars survey, 65 percent of Americans prefer to see nutritional information through either the Nutrition Facts Panel (38 percent) or a good-better-best rating system (27 percent) over just calorie count (17 percent).

An Easy-to-Use Restaurant Menu Nutrition Profiling System

When you consider that, according to the survey, over one-quarter of Americans (28 percent) found the Nutrition Facts Panel exhausting to read, many diners clearly seek a more simplified tool to help them easily identify the meals that offer the most nutrition for the calories. Guiding Stars nutrition navigation system is an at-a-glance program that evaluates each recipe for its nutrient density and provides a good-better-best rating of zero-to-three stars.

Guiding Stars first launched in grocery stores in 2006, the first system of its kind, and has since expanded into commercial food service. The system credits all menu items based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. Food items are then awarded zero, one, two or three stars – one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value, providing consumers with a more holistic view of the content of their food choices, versus calorie count alone.

“Cities across the country are considering the public health impact of menu labeling, but our research shows that Americans are looking for more than just calorie-counts,” said John Eldredge, director of brand and business development at Guiding Stars Licensing Company. “Consumers are seeking an easy-to-use method to find wholesome meal options at their favorite restaurants, and Guiding Stars offers the solution, making it simple to identify menu-items that offer the most nutrition for the calories.”

Download a high-res statistical graphic

Survey Methodology

The Guiding Stars Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between June 23-June 30, 2009 using Random Digit Dialing of listed and unlisted numbers. The survey was fielded to 1,000 nationally representative Americans 18 years and older, and consisted of 484 men and 516 women. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About Guiding Stars Licensing Co.

Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious choices by pioneering the first-ever storewide nutrition navigation system. The Guiding Stars program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutritional choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars Licensing Co., based in Scarborough, Maine, creates opportunities for supermarkets, manufacturers, food service providers and other organizations to license the program and make nutritious shopping simple throughout the United States. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 1,400 supermarkets up and down the East Coast including 1,177 Food Lion Stores in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, 167 Hannaford locations in the Northeast and 108 Sweetbay stores in central and western Florida. Guiding Stars also recently launched the first nutrition navigation system in a public school in MSAD 75 in Topsham, Maine’ launched in Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in April, and will be launching in the University of New Hampshire in September. The program is supported by a 15-person team with significant licensing, marketing, food retail, IT and customer service experience.