Background: Policies on menu labeling have been proposed as a method to improve the food environment. However, there is little information on the nutrient content of chain restaurant menu items and changes over time.
Objective: To evaluate the energy, saturated fat, and sodium content of entrées 6 and 18 months post-implementation of restaurant menu labeling in King County of Washington State for items that were on the menu at both time periods, and across all items at 6 and 18 months and to compare energy content to recommendations provided by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Setting: Eligible restaurants included sit-down and quick-service chains (eg, burgers, pizza, sandwiches/subs, and Tex-Mex) subject to King County regulations with four or more establishments. One establishment per chain was audited at each time period.
Statistical analyses: Hypothesis one examined entrées that were on the menu at both time periods using a paired t test and hypothesis two compared quartiles at 6 months to the distribution at 18 months using a Mantel-Haentzel odds ratios and 95% CIs, and a Cochrane-Armitage test for trend. The content of entrées at 18 months was compared with one-third (assuming three meals per day) of the nutrient intake recommendations for adults provided by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Results: The audit included 37 eligible chains of 92 regulated chains. Energy contents were lower (all chains -41, sit down -73, and quick service -19; paired t tests P<0.0001) for entrées that were on the menu at both time periods. There was a significant trend across quartiles for a decrease in energy, saturated fat, and sodium for all entrées at sit-down chains only. At 18 months entrées not designated for children exceeded 56%, 77%, and 89% of the energy, saturated fat, and sodium guidelines, respectively.
Conclusions: Modest improvements in the nutrient content of sit-down and quick-service restaurant entrées occurred but overall levels for energy, saturated fat, and sodium are excessive.
Copyright © 2012 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.