Calorie Counts on Menus Slow Down Some Diners

Better data leads to better decision-making — except when it comes to dessert.

Calorie counts printed on restaurant menus prompt diners to consume less. Cornell University’s John Cawley and his co-authors collected detailed data from two restaurants, taking down numbers on everything from individual food orders to whether patrons shared a plate over the course of thousands of visits. They found that printed calorie information reduced calories ordered by 3 percent (or 45 calories a meal, roughly equivalent to a large plum or an Oreo cookie). That decrease came from entrees and appetizers, not from drinks or desserts.

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