Think thinner

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With obesity awareness in high gear, restaurant chains this fall are rolling out a barrage of marketing messages touting menu choices and fresh alternatives. Restaurant companies including Wendy's International, Yum Brands' Taco Bell and Burger King Corp., are launching efforts to trumpet lower-fat sandwiches and combo meals.

Wendy's and Taco Bell are promoting meal alternatives with less than 10 grams of fat. Burger King will introduce its Fire Roasted Chicken baguette line that boasts just 5 fat grams. McDonald's Corp. is testing a $4.99 Go Active meal, an adult Happy Meal including an entree salad, bottled water, pedometer and walking booklet, while Subway Restaurants prepares a new campaign touting nutritional balance. Applebee's International later this year will introduce its Weight Watchers menus section.

"The chain industry has recognized they have to be on the offensive and that the consumer does have healthy options," says Ron Paul, president of food researcher Technomic.

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