As America ramps up its fight against bulging waist lines, restaurant chains are providing ammunition in the form of appetizing menu items with 550 or fewer calories, says foodservice researcher Technomic.

The Chicago firm says its latest studies show the trend not only caters to increasing consumer demand for such items, but also helps restaurants prepare for the implementation of pending legislation that will require any brand operating twenty or more units to display nutritional information for all permanent menu items.

Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano says restaurants have become more adept at positioning these menu items to consumers.

“If you can menu these lighter items in a way that does not make consumers feel as though they are sacrificing flavor or satisfaction, they will be more likely to order them," he says. "You can tout them as savory and delicious, as well as better for you, rather than picking just one aspect over another.”

New menu items that contain less than 550 calories include:

•La Madeleine – Shrimp and Tilapia Provençal - 460 calories

•Friendly’s – Half Turkey Club SuperMelt Sandwich and Garden Salad - 420 calories

•Logan’s Roadhouse – 6 oz Filet Mignon under 550 calories

•Carvel Ice Cream – Low Fat Sundae Dishes under 300 calories

•Mimi’s Café – Veggie Burger with Fresh Fruit – 364 calories

•Taco Cabana - Build-Your-Own Cabana Bowl. Four under 400 calories

•Fazoli’s – New Mini Bakes – 400 calories

•Carl’s Jr. – Charbroiled Guacamole Turkey Burger – 490 calories

•Z’Tejas –Turkey Jalapeño Wrap – Under 550 calories

Technomic says it researched low-calorie trends using MenuMonitor, its searchable online trend tracking tool that analyzes more than 1,200 top chain, emerging concept and leading independent restaurant menus around the world. Restaurant operators, suppliers and other subscribers can conduct customized searches for ingredients, preparation methods, and brand usage, and also receive monthly reports on limited time offers. MenuMonitor tracks menus in the U.S., as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, and France.