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Healthy Restaurants

November 5, 2007

Restaurant chains advertising healthful food may actually encourage overeating.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
The healthy restaurant trap. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Several major restaurant and fast-food chains now advertise their menus as healthier than the competition. But these claims may actually fool you into overeating there. So says Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. His team studied how consumers eat in both health-conscious and indulgent restaurant chains.

BRIAN WANSINK (Cornell University):
One thing we find is that most people eating at a healthy restaurant would be more accurate if they doubled their best estimate of how many calories they had eaten.

HIRSHON:
In contrast, people eating in decadent restaurants guessed much closer to their meal’s true calorie count. And while the healthy restaurant entrees often did have fewer calories than the competition, Wansink found that people often make up the difference by adding fattening side dishes, or extra snacks later in the day. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.