Do we eat differently when a restaurant posts calorie numbers? Science explains.

December 2016 is going to be a revealing time for all of us, because that’s when all chain restaurants are required to post the calorie counts for all their food. Yikes. Many places, like McDonalds, Panera Bread, and Starbucks, have already been posting this information. But there’s no more living in pleasant denial when it comes to the final stragglers, especially because, guess what, they’re actually less healthy than those who have already stepped up to the plate.

In 2014, the average number of calories for a restaurant that already posted its calories was 373. For restaurants who did not? 521. That’s almost a 200-calorie leap that doesn’t bode well for the full lists.

But the study that looked into this doesn’t think that posting calorie counts actually makes the restaurant lower their calories, it’s just far more likely that the “healthier” chains were much more willing to come clean with their numbers. Dr. Jason P. Block, who lead the study, explains:

Unless these non-participating chains get their act together and make their food healthier by next December, we’re going to have to start making some tough choices when it comes to our meals out. Which, of course, is the point of posting calories in the first place. Only time will tell if consumer response to these numbers will effect any change, but it will certainly be eye-opening for all involved.

(Image via Shutterstock)