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In a separate development on Tuesday, McDonald's announced changes to its iconic Happy Meal, making the portion of french fries smaller and adding fruit.
Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health and author of the blog "Food Politics," said the study confirms that once people pay attention to the calorie counts, they make dietary changes.
"The next step has to be to get more people to look at the info," she said.
In New York City's Midtown at lunchtime on Tuesday, Carlos Munoz, a 29-year-old student at a technical school, munched on a chicken wrap, fries and a soda from McDonald's.
"I don't really pay any mind to it," he said of calorie counts. "I figure one bad thing a day I should be able to burn away."
But he supported their presence on menus.
"You should know what you're putting into your body," he said. "If I'm ever curious, I'd like to know I can get the information."
Inside Starbucks, Alexandra Casey, 23, of Worcester, Mass., said she looks at calorie counts when they're posted. But as a vegan and avid runner, she was more concerned with overall nutritional content rather than just calories. For example, nuts might be high in calories but they're still a better choice than cake.
Casey applauded New York for leading the way in posting the counts but said eateries should provide more comprehensive information about the food and beverages they offer.
"It's not just about a number," she said. "The question is, what's the content of those calories."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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