Americans eating healthier food at restaurants

Over the past ten years, Americans have gradually reduced their ordering of high-fat or sugar-heavy foods at restaurants. The trend of opting for healthier fare is expected to continue, according to The NPD Group, a Chicago-based market research company.

On the decline: regular carbonated soft drinks, hot dogs, fried chicken, and French fries. Some foods considered healthier -- including milk, grilled chicken and grilled chicken sandwiches, non-fried fish, breakfast cereals, fruit, and yogurt -- are being ordered more than in the past.

The change is partly due to healthier foods being more widely available, said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. "Restaurant operators are responding to their customers' needs for healthier or lighter foods," she said.

An NPD study projected that consumer demand for healthier or lighter foods at restaurants will continue to grow over the next decade. Servings of healthy or light sandwiches, for example, are projected to grow 13 percent in that time. That category includes grilled chicken and fish, turkey, cold cut combos, tuna and chicken salad, and veggie sandwiches.

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