New Research - The impact of calorie counts on menus:
Bottom Line: Have calorie counts on menus had an impact on your choices? According to the NPD Group - generally not. What they find is that we often will go to a restaurant with an idea of what we want and as a result won't alter our decision on that particular visit. That being said 28% to 68% of consumers will at least look at the calorie counts on the menus which often impact future decisions (btw, the lower end of that range is most common at fast-food locations with finer establishments often at the higher end of that range).
The most clear ongoing impact is actually the decision making by the restaurants themselves. According to Harvard research new menu items average 60 fewer calories as compared to the items they're replacing. So perhaps that's the most effectual outcome of calorie counts on menus. A combination of consumer information and restaurant discretion is leading to generally lower calorie options being offered up over time.