Few British Columbians Ponder Calorie Counts When Dining Out

More than three-in-four believe it should be mandatory to display calories on any menu that lists or depicts standard food items.

Vancouver, BC [July 26, 2022] – Residents of British Columbia pay more attention to the nutritional value of foods when they are at the supermarket than when dining out or ordering in, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, more than a third of British Columbians (37%) say they “frequently” check labels to review nutritional content when buying groceries for themselves or others in their household.

Significantly fewer British Columbians “frequently” pay attention to menus to review nutritional content when dining out (13%) or when ordering food delivery (11%).

While almost three-in-ten British Columbians (29%) “frequently” check labels at the grocery store to review the total calories of a product, the proportion drops drastically when residents dine out (14%) or order in (11%).

A similar scenario ensues when respondents are asked about checking for two other items in the food they consume. About three-in-ten British Columbians check labels at the grocery store for sodium (32%) and fat (29%). Fewer follow the same course of action when they go to a restaurant (Sodium 14%, Fat 13%) or when they browse menus or apps for food delivery (Sodium 10%, Fat 11%).

In the Province of Ontario, it is mandatory to display calories on any menu that lists or depicts standard food items offered for sale by a regulated food service premises. More than three-in-four British Columbians (76%, -5 since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in November 2018) are in favour of adopting this regulation.

In 2012, the Province of British Columbia implemented the Informed Dining initiative, a program designed to allow residents to have nutrition information available when eating at participating food service establishments. The voluntary program was abandoned in 2020.

“British Columbians appear to be affected by the lack of standards when it comes to nutritional information in restaurants,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Customers do not have the same information to make a decision that they currently have at the grocery store.”

The proportion of British Columbians who use an activity tracker to monitor certain fitness-related metrics—such as distance walked, amount of exercise and/or calorie consumption—increased from 41% in November 2018 to 45% this month.

Practically half of Metro Vancouverites (49%) rely on an activity tracker. The proportions are lower in Southern BC (46%), Northern BC (42%), Vancouver Island (36%) and the Fraser Valley (35%).

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from July 4 to July 6, 2022, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca