Modifying the energy content of foods, particularly foods eaten away from home, is important in addressing the obesity epidemic. Chefs in the restaurant industry are uniquely placed to influence the provision of reduced-calorie foods, but little is known about their opinions on this issue. A survey was conducted among chefs attending US culinary meetings about strategies for creating reduced-calorie foods and opportunities for introducing such items on restaurant menus. The 432 respondents were from a wide variety of employment positions and the majority had been in the restaurant industry for ≥20 years. Nearly all chefs (93%) thought that the calories in menu items could be reduced by 10-25% without customers noticing. To decrease the calories in two specific foods, respondents were more likely to select strategies for reducing energy density than for reducing portion size (P 0.004). Low consumer demand was identified as the greatest barrier to including reduced-calorie items on the menu by 38% of chefs, followed by the need for staff skills and training (24%), and high ingredient cost (18%). The majority of respondents (71%) ranked taste as the most influential factor in the success of reduced-calorie items (P 0.0001). The results of this survey indicate that opportunities exist for reducing the energy content of restaurant items. Ongoing collaboration is needed between chefs and public health professionals to ensure that appealing reduced-calorie menu items are more widely available in restaurants and that research is directed toward effective ways to develop and promote these items.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics