New research has revealed a significant majority of UK diners think eating-out firms should give more information on food menus.

The study by Fourth Hospitality of 3,000 adults found that 67% of people would like to receive nutritional information – including calorific content – before ordering food.

Even though dining out or takeaways remain a treat for some consumers – with people less inclined to pick healthy options – the findings of the study point to a significant shift in public thinking on the issue of calories and come as McDonald’s, the fast-food group, moved to add calorific content to its UK menus.

Over half of respondents said they regularly checked labels on food sold at supermarkets for nutritional information. And while 62% said they had a good idea of calories in food bought for the home, they had no idea about calorie values when eating out.

The study also revealed some startling perceptions among the public over what types of foods are healthy – one in five said fish and chips could be healthy and 60% believed pizza could be healthy if topped with vegetables. Furthermore, over 80% said a freshly-made burger from a restaurant was healthier than one bought from a supermarket, while over 20% extolled the healthy virtues of a chicken korma curry.

Four in 10 adults admit that foods they assume to be healthy often turn out to be laden with calories, adding to the confusion. Fourth Hospitality commissioned the report to highlight its Star Chef system, which helps companies devise food dishes, calculate nutritional content and label menus with calorie information.