Turns out that offering patrons lower-calorie options isn't just a good move for waistlines, it's a "business imperative" for restaurants, says the lead author of a new study. The report from the Hudson Institute finds that sales were up 5.5% between 2006 and 2011 at restaurants that increased their healthy menu choices and down by 5.5% at those that didn't, reports the Wall Street Journal. It holds true for both fast-food and sit-down restaurants.
"The bottom line is, if restaurants don't get more aggressive behind these low-calorie products, they're leaving sales on the table," says the study's author. The results dovetail with new federal rules that will soon require chains with more than 20 stories to post calorie counts. McDonald's and others already have begun doing so. The healthier alternatives include smaller portions slices, like the "skinny slice" at Sbarro, notes the New York Times. (Read more restaurants stories.)