For the millions of Americans who entered 2008 a bit flabbier -- and made that perennial resolution to shed poundage -- some of the most familiar eateries have an alluring pitch for the new year: Eat, drink and be lighter.
That sounds contradictory, but for big restaurant chains, it's all about customer counts. January is rough for the $558 billion industry as people cope with holiday burnout, credit card bloat and body flab.
Starbucks is hyping "Skinny" lattes. Jack in the Box launched low-cal chicken strips. Cheesecake Factory cake rolled out light salads. Applebee's says Weight Watchers menu sales could jump 8%. Panera Bread is selling half-sandwich and half-salad combos. Sonic's fat-free Double Berry Smoothies are new.