information and that increased demand for healthful items and appropriate portions is made more likely. Moreover, the restaurant industry should explore price incentives that encourage consumers to order smaller meal portions. Research initiatives are needed to identify the most effective types of information formats on menus for encouraging the selection of healthful options (Stubenitsky et al., 1999).
As these suggested actions are costly endeavors, consideration must be given to the practicality of implementing these actions in cost-effective ways, especially in expensive restaurants where there is great variability in meals requested by patrons, and small or individual restaurants with limited food volume sales. It is also unclear who will be expected to pay for the nutrient analyses as well as the menu labeling itself. One option would be to encourage local public health departments to contract with dietitians in conducting nutrition education for the public and analyzing the nutrient content of menus. This would represent a new role for local government, but it could be developed by adapting current food safety and sanitation inspection services. It could also generate fees, so that the activity would be self-supporting and sustainable in the long-term; and it could be a convenient way to give public recognition to restaurants in compliance.
In addition to voluntary point-of-service menu labeling, the committee recognizes that parents currently have limited nutrition information to rely on in order to select portion sizes and foods that are appropriate for their child. Thus, the committee encourages the restaurant industry to provide nutrition education that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the FGP in order to inform parents and older youth about appropriate energy intake for meals intended for children and adolescents of different ages.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a federal summary, issued jointly by DHHS and USDA every 5 years, that provides sound guidance to the public about food choices based on the current scientific evidence. The first edition was released in 1980 and provided seven guidelines. The fifth edition was released in 2000 and provided 10 guidelines clustered into three categories: aim for a healthy weight, build a healthy base, and choose sensibly (Ballard-Barbash, 2001).
The FGP was released in 1992 by USDA to teach consumers how to put the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into action. The FGP serves as the official food guide for the United States (USDA, 1992; Achterberg et al., 1994). The FGP illustrates the concepts of variety, proportionality, and moderation emphasized in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Achterberg et al., 1994; Dixon et al., 2001). In 1999, USDA developed an