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Knowing the Calorie Count of Food You're Ordering Online May Help You Eat Less

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A new study shows that knowledge really is power. Consumers who order their food online and have access to caloric information order 10 percent fewer calories then those that do not have the data at their fingertips.

With the rise of online ordering and food delivery services like Uber Eats and Eat24, it would seem people care less about the food they’re consuming than how quickly they can get their favorite ramen bowl to their front door. However, the ease of online ordering may actually help people make smarter choices, according to a new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers found that people who order their food online are more likely to choose the lighter option if the menu indicates a meal’s caloric content.

Next spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations mandating calorie labeling go into effect. That mandate will make knowing the caloric content of the food you're ordering much easier—both in restaurants and online. Many people have voiced skepticism about the labeling regulations' ability to effectively steer people towards healthier choices. This new study refutes those claims because users who had access to caloric information ordered about 10 percent fewer calories than those who did not have the information.

While this small margin of reduced calories at one meal each day is realistically not going to amount to huge improvements in overall health, this could be the start of a larger movement towards more calorie-conscious and health-minded consumers, even if they're choosing not to prepare their food at home.

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