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Health Department

Health Department Telephone Survey Finds Majority of Nashville Residents Support Placing Calories on Menus and Menu Boards

90 Percent Reported Eating Out Week Prior to Survey

NASHVILLE, Tenn., February 2, 2009 -- A majority of Nashville residents participating in a recent telephone survey by the Metro Public Health Department support placing calorie information on menus and menu boards.

The results were based on responses from 400 residents participating in an automated random-digit phone survey. Of 351 with a valid response, 78 percent (284 persons) supported the menu-labeling requirement and 21 percent (79 persons) opposed it.

The Metropolitan Board of Health is considering menu labeling regulations proposed by the Metro Public Health Department as one measure to fight an obesity epidemic in Nashville where nearly 6 in 10 adults are overweight or obese, and nearly 30 percent of Nashville’s youth are overweight or obese. The proposed regulations would apply only to restaurants with 15 or more outlets nationwide.

"The Health Department believes it is important to follow a transparent process that includes community input," said Bill Paul, Director of Health for Nashville/Davidson County. "This has included a public hearing at our November Board of Health meeting, a 30-day written comment period, meetings with restaurant and lodging industry representatives, and the telephone survey," Dr. Paul said.

Survey participants were also asked how often they ate at restaurants or ordered in during the past week. Forty-nine percent said they had eaten out one to three times during the past week and 41 percent said they had eaten out four or more times during the past week. Only 10 percent said they had not eaten out during the past week.

"Results from the survey show that eating restaurant food has become for many an everyday event," Dr. Paul said. "Most people underestimate the calories they take in when they are eating out. Some main dishes may contain 1,600 calories. That’s about three quarters of the calories most adults should eat in a whole day."

"Two recent national reports show Tennessee's health ranking at 46th and 47th," Dr. Paul said. “The most alarming result of this epidemic and the chronic diseases attached to it is that the life expectancy of our children’s generation will be shorter than our own."