Poll: Consumers Aren't Very Good At Estimating Calorie Content

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the American Heart Association recently conducted a scientific poll (unlike the completely unscientific one above) in which they asked a sampling of consumers to tell them which menu items had the fewest calories. The results? Consumers had no clue. One of the poll questions is reproduced above. If you like, you can take a guess and then head inside for the answer. (Peaking is easy, but in poor taste.)

steakhousebeef.jpgIf you guessed “Tuna Melt”—you’re smarter than approximately 96% of consumers. The rest either chose incorrectly or admitted that they didn’t know. Most thought that the Steakhouse Beef Dip or Baja Chicken with Bacon had the most calories. The Steakhouse Beef Dip with cheese and dressing actually has the fewest calories, with 730, whereas the Tuna Melt weighs in at a hefty 1,420.

“Almost everyone failed this quiz,” said Lucy Culp, government affairs director the American Heart Association in WA. “Restaurants don’t make customers guess when it comes to prices; they show them on the menu. There’s no reason to keep vital nutrition information from consumers, and many good reasons to provide it.”

Another question that gave consumers trouble:
Which item at McDonald’s has the most calories?

  • A Big Mac

  • Two sausage McGriddles
  • A large chocolate shake
  • Four regular hamburgers
  • Aren’t you sure?

The correct answer is the large chocolate shake at 1,160 calories. Did you guess correctly? Most consumers didn’t. Only 10% correctly identified the chocolate shake as the item with the most calories.

You can check out the poll results and the report from the CSPI by clicking here.
(Photo:Morton Fox)