Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

News Snippets

October 25, 2011

This time around: burger restaurants show great growth during the recession, while other restaurants are cutting down on the use of high fructose corn syrup.


Limited-Service Burger Restaurants Show Growth


Fast-casual is the way to go – at least, that’s the belief of many limited-service burger operators. The belief is firmly grounded in reality, too: The top 75 limited-service burger changes boasted a 1.6 sales growth last year that reached $65 billion.


The top 10 fastest-growing restaurants showed amazing growth, from Fatburger’s “low” 13.9% unit change, to Shake Shack’s 133.3%(!) unit change.


The burger segment is showing great growth, even though its rate of expansion has been slowing. The study was put together by industry research firm Technomic, and is available at the following link:


Restaurants Bucking High Fructose Corn Syrup


There has been controversy in health-conscious circles for years over high fructose corn syrup. Found in everything from candy to soda to common food items, the syrup has been blamed from everything from the United States’ obesity epidemic, to diabetes, to just about any weight-based health concern you can name!


Big-name companies like Pepsi, Sara Lee, Kraft, Heinz, Hunt’s, and even Gatorade have opted for sugar over high fructose corn syrup in many of their product lines. Many restaurant operators are beginning to follow suit.


Take for example Fairmont Hotel’s Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson in Seattle. He decided to remove both regular and high fructose corn syrup from his menus shortly after getting rid of trans fats.  He feels responsible for each of the 400,000 yearly meals he oversees, stating: “I can’t change what people eat every day, but I can make a difference to those people who eat here.”


He makes a good argument about how to fight obesity. Since our eating habits haven’t changed, he says, maybe we should do something about what’s in the food we eat instead. He claims that more natural sweeteners are best, stating that “Our great grandparents had no problem” with staples such as sugar, honey, and butter. He recently installed beehives on the Fairmont’s roof so that he would have an endless supply of “clean” sweetener. If that’s not walking the walk, we don’t know what is!

Calorie Counts on Menus Not the Hoped for Panacea

April 5, 2011

Well it turns out that Americans are choosing to get fat in droves, in spite of the fact that we have plenty of information to tell us how bad certain foods are for us. That’s the result of a survey that was conducted recently at New York University and published in the International Journal of Obesity.

400 Parents and Teenagers Questioned

The study asked 400 parents and teenagers about their food choices in New York City. New York City became the very first city in the country to require calorie counts be listed on menus in restaurants across the city back in July, 2008.

The results were quite startling to say the least. One would have expected that some impact would have been seen on the eating choices of the parents and teenagers and yet the results showed almost exactly the opposite.

9% of Teenagers Changed Eating Habits

The good news is that more than half of all teenagers surveyed for the study did happen to notice the calorie counts at major fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King.

In fact, 57% reported that they took note of the amount of calories they were eating before they placed an order for their Happy Meals, Big Macs and buckets of chicken.

However, in results which were extremely disappointing to researches, who had predicted that the new menu requirements would help to fight what has become a very significant obesity epidemic in this country (according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully 2/3 of adult Americans and 15 percent of children are either overweight or obese).

However, almost none of the children seemed to care. Just 9% of the teenagers questioned reported having made different choices based on the calorie counts mentioned on the menus.

Researchers Still Unsure

In spite of the disappointing results of the survey, researchers say it’s still too early to tell if the nationwide roll –out of required calorie counts, recently mandated by congress, will be as ineffective as they have been so far in New York City.

The New Kids’ Menus

September 16, 2010

Kids‘ menus historically have included things like French fries, hamburgers and chicken nuggets – in other words, foods kids love but that aren’t considered the most healthy.  But times are changing.

These days, the focus for children is on preventing the spread of the obesity epidemic that has taken hold in this country. All those fried foods which are high in fat and cholesterol, which we thought were acceptable things for kids to eat are no longer acceptable, even for the kids. Here’s how to keep up with the changing times:

Offer Kid-Friendly Food Prepared in a Healthy Way

The first thing you should do when working on a new kids menu is to remember that kids are still kids–they’re not likely to get excited about eating a nice big green salad. Finger friendly food is still very important for them.  It’s a good idea to include items kids can eat with their bare hands.

However, within that variety, there are plenty of choices. Consider baked foods instead of fried foods, which tend to be much higher in fat and cholesterol. Roasted potato wedges for example can still be finger friendly kids’ foods, as long as they aren’t too hot.

McDonalds has tried out apple dippers as an option for desert and some variation of that may be perfect for kids menus as well.

Offer a Few Choices for Special Needs

If you really want to make your menu kid friendly while at the same time attracting health conscious parents, consider offering alternatives for special needs kids.

Diabetes, peanut allergies and celiac disease are all growing concerns amongst children. Offer these options and you’ll make life easier for (and attract more) parents who constantly have to watch what their children eat.