‘Healthy’ menus up 86%, including at airport restaurants

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Diners these days are finding more options that are better for them at eateries, even the ones at the nation’s busiest airports.

Restaurants using the word “healthy” in menu descriptions is up 86% over the last year, according to research group Technomic.

Instances of “low fat” on menus are up 33%, while “fat free” and “non-fat” are appearing 12% more often than they were last year. Meals claiming to be “no sugar” are now 51% more popular on menus.

And although “low-calorie” shows up less often than the other descriptors, its presence on menus jumped 154% year over year.


Chains including Starbucks, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s are all trying to appeal to the health-minded set as regulators crack down on calorie counts and fatty children’s menus.

Even airports, not normally known as bastions of good-for-you cooking, are offering a wider range of healthful alternatives to greasy burgers.

At the nation’s busiest 15 airports, 83% of restaurants offer at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free meal, according to a recent report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. In 2001, just 57% of airport eateries could say the same.

Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was ranked the healthiest travel thoroughfare, with all of its 59 restaurants offering wholesome meals. Just 33% of those establishments made the list in 2001.

San Francisco International Airport was second-best, with healthful fare at 96% of its 68 eateries, followed by good eats at 92% of 38 dining spots at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

Los Angeles International Airport was third to last on the list, with 76% of its 55 restaurants featuring low-fat, cholesterol-free food.


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