July 17, 2007

All of America demands calorie information

Today's NY Times succinctly describes how and why Americans are demanding calorie information at restaurants.

Calorie Labels May Clarify Options, Not Actions

If you were watching calories, would you go for the chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s or the classic sirloin steak? Subway’s tuna or roast beef sandwich? A Starbucks chai or a cappuccino?

Demand for calorie labels on restaurant food is sweeping the country. New York City is ahead of the trend — a law requiring calorie counts to be posted next to prices in some restaurants went into effect July 1, though it will not be enforced until October. But some 20 other states and localities are considering measures that would require chain restaurants to provide calories or detailed nutritional information right on the menu or menu board, often next to the price and in the same size lettering.

“Do you think people will stop eating McDonald’s French fries and Big Macs?” asked Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing New York City over its law. “It doesn’t keep me from eating a candy bar even though the calories are listed on it right in front of me.” (A Big Mac has 540 calories; a medium order of fries, 380.)

But public opinion polls suggest that consumers are overwhelmingly in favor of menu labeling. And a 2005 survey of 5,297 adults by the food services company Aramark found that 83 percent of them wanted nutritional information in restaurants.

“Often, people are trying to do the right thing and make the healthier choice, but they’re just guessing at what the best choice is — it’s not always obvious,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the advocacy group that is leading the movement for menu labeling. “Because there’s no nutritional information, they’re not getting what they think they’re getting.”

The chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s is one of those items that might appear to be a healthier choice, but brace yourself: it contains 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat, while the sirloin has 540 calories and 42 grams of fat (not counting side dishes).


And the NY Times also asked its readers if menu nutritional information would affect what you ordered at restaurants?

The answer was overwhelming yes!

Some of the comments:

  • Calorie labels would absolutely affect what I order at restaurants. I am no saint, but I often do try to think about what would be a healthy option when dining out. If I had the added information of a calorie count, it would be much easier to make that decision.

    — Posted by Mark

  • Yes, it would affect what I order. I travel to Japan often, where many restaurants note in their menus the amt of calories each item has. I find it helpful.

    — Posted by TonyD

  • not only would it affect what i order, it would allow me to go out to restaurants more often. I currently try to avoid eating out more than once a week.

    — Posted by estefanía

  • YES, please put labels on restaurant food. Restaurants are famous for adding in tons of fat and I think it would make them more aware. Not to mention me more aware when I eat a steak and wonder why it tastes so good! Well it has a ton of butter rubber all over it! Besides, then when I diet I can actually go out to eat so I have a clue what I am eating!

    — Posted by Linda

No comments: