Canadians want more information about fat, sodium at all restaurants: survey

TORONTO – Canadians want more nutritional information about menu items at all restaurants, not just fast-food eateries, according to a recent survey.

Two-thirds of Canadian adults said they liked the idea of seeing information about fat and sodium levels at all restaurants. And women were most likely to indicate such a preference, the Harris/Decima research showed.

“Right now, in fast-food restaurants especially, you can request the nutritional information or some places, space permitting, will post it. And in the U.S., my understanding is they are making a more stronger push to try and have this type of information available at more restaurants,” said Susan Sanei-Stamp, vice president of Harris/Decima, in an interview on Wednesday.

“So I thought it would be interesting, given what we were seeing, if Canadians would be interested and receptive to having that available. It’s not just focused on quick service but perhaps the restaurant industry as a whole.”

About 65 per cent of the Canadians polled between the ages of 35 to 44 supported having the information, as did 71 per cent of those 45 to 54, and 53 per cent of those aged 55 to 64.

Respondents of the Harris/Decima telephone poll were also asked whether they were aware of a proposed ban on large orders of pop and other sugary drinks made by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He wants to stop restaurants, movie theatres, sports arenas, food carts and delis from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than half a litre. Bloomberg says it’s a way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars a year on weight-related health problems. People would be free to buy another round, but restaurants couldn’t serve drinks in large containers to begin with.

Opponents to the plan say the government is overstepping its bounds and infringing on personal freedom.

Half of the Canadians polled by Harris/Decima were aware of Bloomberg’s proposal and two-thirds said they would support a similar ban in their area.

Nearly half of those who believed Bloomberg’s proposed ban could have an impact also thought it could raise awareness about how much pop people consume in general. About a quarter believed it could help people rethink the number of calories they consume in a given day.

The research showed people felt “it’s one thing to have a ban in place, but give us the information so we can be aware of what we’re doing and raise our own awareness levels and take it from there,” said Sanei-Stamp.

Each week, Harris/Decima interviews just over 1,000 Canadians through teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. This poll was conducted between June 27 to 30 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.