WASHINGTON – Restaurant chains are reducing calories in many of their menu items, according to a new study. The report, which was released Oct. 7 by researchers at Johns Hopkins Univ.’s Department of Health Policy and Management looked at caloric trends at more than 60 large US chain restaurants, and included Chipotle, Wendy’s and Applebee’s Bar & Grill among others.

Overall, the menu items the chain restaurants introduced in 2013 had 12 percent fewer calories than menu items in 2012, the study claims. Calories in new children’s items dropped 20 percent.

“This report is a sure sign that the restaurant industry is continuing its commitment to promoting health and wellness,” said Joy Dubost, the National Restaurant Association’s director of nutrition and healthy living. “Restaurants have made meaningful progress in offering menu items that are innovative, great-tasting and nutritious.”

The NRA is especially pleased with the progress the industry is making in providing more healthful kids’ meals.

“We’ve been promoting healthful options on menus through Kids LiveWell, our children’s nutrition program,” she said. “We also vigorously advocated for a nationwide menu-labeling standard that gives consumers the nutrition information needed to make choices that are right for them. The information in this new report shows that restaurants are not only meeting consumer demand for more healthful items, but helping them dine smarter.”

The study proves that restaurants are committed to delivering healthful options to parents and children, said Joan McGlockton, the NRA’s vice president of industry affairs and food policy.

“More and more chefs are using their creativity to develop more healthful, flavorful items that consumers will want to eat,” she added. “Diners today are savvier about food and nutrition and are driving the demand for better choices. The findings in this report signal that restaurant companies are listening and giving guests what they want.”