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OP79 Energy and nutrient trends of menu items served by large UK chain restaurants, 2018- 2020
  1. Yuru Huang,
  2. Jean Adams,
  3. Thomas Burgoine
  1. MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


Background Increased consumption of out-of-home food is one important contributor to rising obesity rates. Currently, little is known about trends in the nutritional content of restaurant foods in the UK. The objective of this study was to evaluate longitudinal trends in energy and nutrient (i.e., saturated fat, sugar, and salt) content of menu items served by large UK chain restaurants.

Methods Data on energy and nutrient content of menu items served by large UK restaurant chains– defined by either number of outlets or turnover - that provided nutritional information on their websites were collected annually (2018–2020). A total of 23,911 items from 29 large UK chain restaurants were included in the analysis. We used linear mixed models to estimate per-item energy and nutrient changes, in all items and common items (i.e., items that were available in all three years, N=2,433) over time. We also explored if the trends varied across different types of restaurants (e.g. cafés, full-service restaurants) and food categories (e.g. beverages, pizza).

Results The sugar content of menu items served by large UK chain restaurants declined (0.43g/year, 95% CI= -0.66, -0.21, p<0.001) from 2018 to 2020. This reduction was particularly driven by changes in beverages and desserts, and the trends were similar in all restaurant types. The average reduction in sugar was smaller in common items compared to all items (0.30 g/year vs. 0.43 g/year). Changes for energy and other nutrients were sporadic and inconsistent across different restaurant types and food categories.

Conclusion From 2018 to 2020, sugar per serving declined in restaurant menu items, which could help to reduce sugar intake in the UK population. This may reflect a response to Public Health England’s Sugar Reduction Strategy. In contrast, there was little change in other nutrients. Future policies addressing the overall nutritional quality of restaurant foods, rather than single nutrients, may help the restaurant sector to move towards offering healthier foods.

  • Nutrition
  • Restaurant
  • Trend

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