More than half of Americans don't actually pay attention to the nutrition information restaurants put on their menus, according to a new survey.
Specifically, Gallup researchers found that just 43 percent of Americans say they pay "a great deal" or a "fair amount" of attention to nutritional information on menus.
However, 68 percent say they look at the nutritional information on food packages.
"Americans' level of attention to nutritional information in restaurants may increase as the practice of posting such information become more common," the Gallup researchers wrote in their report. "It is possible, though, that people are more flexible when eating out -- and more likely to choose less healthy food options -- than they are when deciding what to purchase at the grocery store."
The survey, which involved telephone interviews conducted last month with 2,027 people, also showed gender and age differences in the level of attention people pay to nutritional information. For instance, 73 percent of women say they pay a great deal/fair amount to food package nutrition information and 49 percent say they pay a great deal or fair amount to menu nutrition information. For men, on the other hand, 61 percent say they pay a great deal or fair amount to nutrition information on food packages and 36 percent say they pay a great deal or fair amount to menu nutrition information.
Young adults -- people ages 18 to 29 -- are the least likely to look at nutrition information, while people ages 50 and up are the most likely to heed it. And college grads are more likely than those with a high school diploma or less to look at nutrition information, the researchers found.
And turns out, it's the self-proclaimed "healthy" ones who are the most likely ones to look at nutrition information, with 48 percent of self-reported "very healthy" people and 50 percent of "somewhat healthy" people looking at nutrition information on food packages, versus 3 percent of "not too/not at all healthy" people. People who look at nutrition information are also less likely to say that they are overweight, and instead gauge their weight at "about right."
Even if people aren't paying attention to menu nutritional information, some research has suggested that it may not even matter anyway, as people don't seem to order fewer calories even if they know how many calories are in the item they're ordering.
What do you think? Do you actually pay attention to nutrition information on menus? If you do, does it influence what you order? Tell us in the comments!
Grilled Chicken Breast
Perdue Grilled Chicken Breast, Plain This lean protein provides a lot of nutrients <em>and</em> a lot of volume per calorie, making it a great salad topper. 50 cals -- 1/2 cup 100 cals -- 1 cup 200 cals -- 2 cup
Eggland's Best Eggs Hard-boiled eggs are common in everything from Chef's Salad to Niçoise. And while egg slices are a great vegetarian protein source, it's easy to lose track of how many whole eggs you're eating. 50 cals -- .8 eggs 100 cals -- 1.67 eggs 200 cals -- 3.5 eggs
Peloponnese Pitted Kalamata Olives Heart healthy olives are a great salad choice, but the calories add up quickly. 50 cals -- 6 olives 100 cals -- 12 olives 200 cals -- 24 olives
Organic Avocado Avocados are heart-healthy dynamos -- delivering polyunsaturated fats and even, according to some research, helping to reduce the inflammation that contributes to heart disease risk. But if you're adding some avocado in your chopped salad, chances are you're getting more calories than you bargained for. 50 cals -- 1/6 of avocado 100 cals -- 1/3 avocado 200 cals -- 2/3 avocado
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Via Roma Sun Dried Tomato Halves What could be bad about tomatoes? In this concentrated form, the small, dried halves are surprisingly calorific. 50 cals -- 4 pieces 100 cals -- 8 pieces 200 cals -- 16 pieces
Pepperidge Farm Classic Ceasar Croutons Is there a more classic salad ingredient than a crouton? Unfortunately, the iconic topper is high in calories. 50 cals -- 10 pieces 100 cals -- 20 pieces 200 cals -- 40 pieces
Progresso Chickpeas Chickpeas are another high volume, low cal choice, with plenty of fiber and protein. 50 cals -- 1/4 cup 100 cals -- 1/2 cup 200 cals -- 1 cup
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Blue Cheese adds a lot of flavor without a lot of volume, and that means even a small amount will permeate your salad's profile. 50 cals -- 1/8 cup 100 cals -- 1/4 cup 200 cals -- 1/2 cup
Cubed Cheddar Cheese
Kraft Cheddar Cheese, Cubed If you're well-behaved enough to have a salad, you might as well cheer yourself up with some cheese, right? Given how little cheese is in each portion, that's a dangerous game to start. 50 calories -- .5 oz or about 4 small cubes 100 calories -- 1 oz or about 8 cubes 200 calories -- 2 oz or about 16 cubes
Stella Shredded Parmesan Cheese Shredded parmesan is another way to up the flavor and lower the volume. 50 cals -- 1/8 cup 100 cals -- 1/4 cup 200 cals -- 1/2 cup
Dole Mandarin Slices In Light Syrup Canned orange slices are popular at salad bars and with just 50 calories in a quarter cup, they contribute to an overall healthful calorie load. That said, watch out for the "light syrup" -- a source of added sugar. 50 cals -- 1/4 cup 100 cals -- 1/2 cup 200 cals -- 1 cup
Ocean Spray Original Craisins Sweet, tart dried cranberries -- sounds natural, but these salad toppers are often <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/277605-craisins-nutrition-information/">full of added sugar</a>. 50 cals -- 1/8 cups 100 cals -- 1/4 cups 200 cals -- 1/2 cups
Diamond Sliced Almonds Sliced almonds are an easy way to add some protein and heart-healthy fats to your salad, but less than three tablespoons already add up to 100 calories. 50 cals -- 1.25 Tbsp 100 cals -- 2.5 Tbsp 200 cals -- 5 Tbsp
Seneca Crispy Apple Chips Granny Smith Fresh apples are healthy, but these crispy apple chips pack a caloric punch, thanks to added sugar and oil. 50 cals -- 4 slices 100 cals -- 8 slices 200 cals -- 16 slices
Fresh Gourmet Garlic Ginger Wonton Strips These crispy little strips can add up quickly. 50 calories -- 3 Tbsp 100 calories -- 6 Tbsp 200 calories -- 12 Tbsp
Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips Lightly Salted Much like the wonton strips, these crispy carbs can seem harmless. But even a handful can top 100 calories. 50 cals -- 3 Tbsp 100 cals -- 6 Tbsp 200 cals -- 12 Tbsp
Heart-healthy walnuts are a great salad topper, thanks to their nutrient density -- but they can come with quite a few calories, as well. 50 cals -- 1 Tbsp 100 cals -- 2 Tbsp 200 cals -- 1/4 cup
Hormel Bacon Bits
No one is under the impression that these little bits are healthful -- they're full of sodium and saturated fat -- though they are not particularly calorific. Two tablespoons is just 50 calories. 50 cals -- 2 Tbsp 100 cals -- 4 Tbsp 200 cals -- 8 Tbsp
Kraft Italian Dressing Italian dressing can make even the bitterest green palatable to a veg-o-phobe. But the dressing comes full of added sugars, salts and quite a few calories. 50 cals -- 2 Tbsp 100 cals -- 4 Tbsp 200 cals -- 8 Tbsp
Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing
The typical salad serving size is two tablespoons, but many salads are dressed with far more. And it's hard to imagine how that translates into calories. 50 calories -- 1.5 Tbsp 100 calories -- 3 Tbsp 200 calories -- 6 Tbsp