Restaurant and fast food chains in the US with 20 or more outlets have to put calorie counts on their menus - and research shows this is saving thousands of lives.


Adding calorie labels to menus in restaurants could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in healthcare and societal costs, a new study shows.


A US law implemented in 2018 requiring restaurants and fast-food chains with 20 or more outlets to display calorie labels on their menus has already shown a net decrease of 20 to 60 calories for each meal, the study found.


And based on national nutritional survey data, and modelling from Tufts University researchers, the policy is forecast to prevent at least 28,000 obesity-related cancer cases in the space of the lifetime of the cohort of adults involved, who were aged between 20 and 65.


This would prevent some 16,700 cancer deaths over the same time period, and save a combined $2.8 billion (€2.55 billion) in healthcare and societal costs.

The projections showed the greatest numbers of cancer deaths averted were for liver (4,530), postmenopausal breast (3,080), endometrium (2,060), kidney (1,980), and pancreatic (1,230).


Previous research shows how the policy could prevent a large number of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes cases among US adults, but the health and economic impacts on obesity-related cancers had not previously been evaluated.