Dieters think they are doing themselves a favor when checking restaurants calorie counts for certain items before ordering. Apparently that’s not the case as a new study from Tufts concludes that nearly 1 in 5 restaurants had inaccurate calorie ratings of their offerings.
The researchers found that several foods had over a 100 calorie disparity with what the restaurant stated on its website. This study encompassed 42 fast food and sit-down restaurants in three states including Chipotle, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and Boston Market.
Lead researcher Lorien Urban, a former Tufts graduate student, and others bought the foods from the restaurants without revealing their purpose and then brought them back to Tufts for testing. In most cases the calorie counts were accurate but about 20% of foods tested had a large variation (over 100 calories off). Sit-down restaurants had more inaccurate readings probably because their foods are more subject to individual variation when compared to fast food places.
This brings up a huge issue for dieters who expect to be staying on course by ordering a soup at Olive Garden or salad at Chipotle. It turns out that these “healthier” offerings were the ones that unexpectedly had more calories. Although the new labeling law has helped many, this study illustrates one of the places it can still be improved. Linda Van Horn, a research nutritionist and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said: “Labeling is a wonderful thing, but periodically, there should be some external monitoring so restaurants would need to know they should be conscious of any changes that take place”.
Although a 100 calorie discrepancy per day doesn’t seem like much, over the course of a year that can add 10-15 extra pounds. So it is important that restaurants display more accurate numbers for the well-being of everyone and hopefully this study speeds the correction process up.
 Kay Lazar, http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2011/07/20/restaurant_calorie_counts_often_inaccurate_study_finds/?page=full