Consumers make healthy choices at restaurants by skipping beverages and desserts, says NPD

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers make healthy choices by skipping menu items

Related tags Nutrition

While 39% of consumers say they will choose a salad as a meal and 28% look for a ‘healthier protein or meat’ when they are trying to eat out more healthily, they are equally likely to just order less, by skipping appetizers, desserts or drinks, according to new research.

In a survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted by NPD Group, 37% said they would skip beverages (a big profit driver for restaurants) or just have water, in order to make a meal ‘healthier’, while 38% skip dessert and 22% ditch appetizers.

While 28% claim to ‘pick a healthier protein or meat’, only 12% say they would share an entrée, 16% skip dressings or sauces or have them on the side, 15% opt for a light version, 11% pick soup as a meal and 17% ‘have items prepared in a healthier way’.

'I want to indulge when I go out to eat'


Meanwhile only 25% say they try to eat healthy foods when they go out to eat. 

When diners that don’t choose healthy options when eating out were asked why not, 37% said ‘I want to eat what I want to eat,’ and 23% said ‘I want to indulge when I go out to eat’.

Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst, said the findings served as a reminder that many people regard eating out as a treat or indulgence, even if they eat out quite frequently.

“The bottom line is that even with an increasing number of restaurants offering healthier menu items or posting calories and other nutritional information, at the end of the day, consumers see dining out as a treat, an indulgence,”​ said.

The report comes hot on the heels of the annual International Food Information Council (IFIC) food & health survey (Click here​), which revealed that 81% of consumers say they eat more healthfully at home than when they eat out (see chart below).

The 2013 IFIC food & health survey shows that the vast majority of consumers agree that they eat more healthfully at home than at restaurants


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