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Is this restaurant making me fat?

Assessing the reliability of a restaurant scorecard for healthy dining

Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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IMAGE: These findings will be presented as a poster at the 2015 Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior conference on Monday July, 27th from 10-12. view more

Credit: Daniel Miller

Is your favorite restaurant making you fat? New research findings identify an effective tool for measuring how well a restaurant is at helping diners make healthy choices. The Restaurant Scorecard for Healthier Dining, developed by Cornell Food and Brand Lab researchers-- Brian Wansink, Gnel Gabrielyan, and Steven A. Wendel-- can be used by diners and restaurant managers alike to identify changes that can be made to promote healthy eating behaviors without undermining revenue.

Using results of field studies and principles of behavioral science, the researchers identified 100 actions that restaurants could take to make it easier for diners to eat healthier. The researchers then created a 100 point and a 10 point Restaurant Scorecard for Healthy Dining. To examine if the scorecards could be reliably used to rate whether a restaurant is making its diners fat by design or slim by design, they recruited eight diners to test out both a 10-point and a 100-point scorecard in a large cafeteria, an Applebee's, and two different McDonald's in a medium-sized city. The researchers concluded that the restaurant scorecards can be a reliable way to rate how effective a restaurant is at helping you dine healthfully.

Lead researcher Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of the new book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, says, "Restaurant managers want people to leave feeling good, these scorecards can help identify potential improvements that will make diners leave feeling both satisfied and healthy."

These findings will be presented as a poster at the 2015 Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior conference on Monday July, 27th from 10-12.

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