WASHINGTON – According to Unilever Food Solutions’ new World Menu Report, "What's in Your Food?" study, 70% of US diners want more information about the sourcing and nutritional value of their meals when dining out – while 64% said they would choose healthier meals if more information was provided. The global study surveyed 3,500 diners in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, Brazil and Turkey who eat out at least once a week.

Demand for more information was less pronounced among US diners than their counterparts in non-western and developing nations, where 90% or more of respondents said they wanted greater transparency about meal content.

Technomic’s recent 2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report determined almost half of US consumers say they want healthier menu items, but only about one-fourth of them actively consider nutrition when dining out.

A study published in January 2011 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined purchasing trends at King County, Washington, fast-food restaurants where a mandatory menu labeling law went into effect two years prior. The evaluation showed that 13 months after the law took affect, the additional menu information had almost no effect on what people bought.

Fat, calories, preservatives and food additives topped respondents’ lists of the nutrients and ingredients they are most interested in knowing more about when dining out throughout all surveyed countries in the new World Menu Report. In the US and UK, sodium is also seen as an important topic for information, while in China respondents would like to know more about the vitamins and proteins in their meals.

Restaurants should take the lead in ensuring more transparency regarding the content of meals, nearly all respondents surveyed globally said.