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The Dark Side of Posting Calorie Counts

Posting calorie counts has been nothing if not controversial. In NYC the restaurants complained, and now on college campuses students are questioning the practice. In attempts to fight the freshman 15, dining halls have begun posting calorie counts, but there have been some negative consequences. Although about a third of all college students fall into the American College Health Association's obese or overweight categories, the calorie counts might be inadvertently provoking eating disorders.

The unstructured collegiate life, along with all-you-can-eat dining halls, can lead to disordered eating, which is broader than just anorexia and bulimia and includes unhealthy dieting practices. Students and nutritional advisers alike believe calorie counts oversimplify the thought process needed to learn balanced nutrition and that there is a better way to educate vulnerable students about weight gain. Some colleges now post nutritional information online, rather than in the cafeteria, and others have created healthy dining halls, free of french fries, fried chicken, and white bread. Hopefully, higher education can incorporate lessons of healthy living into campus life and help students learn the value of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

How do you feel about posting calorie counts? Do you feel it can inspire a negative relationship with food?

Image Source: Getty
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Join The Conversation
dani17731 dani17731 6 years
Agreed fashionplate52!
fashionplate525 fashionplate525 6 years
What would be even better than posting calories, would be for restaurants to stop cooking with unhealthy food and instead offer items that are nutritious and delicious, so we would not have to worry about the calorie count and can instead focus on getting the right nutrients for our bodies!!
onthebus onthebus 6 years
I don't see how this would lead to an eating disorder. It seems like misplaced blame. I wish they would have posted calories when I was in college...actually, posting all of the nutrition info would be better.
BleedLikeMe BleedLikeMe 6 years
I also had an eating disorder, and I personnally know how many calories, fat and carbs i'm consuming by just looking, smelling at my food. I use to check the consistency, water content, weight.. etc, to know how many calories I was consuming. A simple view of nutritional facts (that are on most packages) can't directly lead to anorexia, it takes more factors to develop that kind of disease.
equestriennechic equestriennechic 6 years
Colleges are doing the right thing. I'm in college right now, and I check the full nutritional stats (including sodium) of everything that I eat. I don't know what I'd do without it! When I'm hope for breaks or whatever, I prepare all of my own meals myself at home. You never know what's going to be in your food if you didn't prepare it personally! People need to educate themselves about food and eating well, because unfortunately at this time way too many unhealthy foods are being marketed. The entire food system needs to be reformed, but until then, people need to take the initiative to educate themselves! Eating disorders are far more than just eating too few calories, and serving "mystery meat" is not going to cure it.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
When I was a freshman, I lived in a dorm with it's own cafeteria. They would post the calorie counts for all their entrees right by them so you would know how many calories were in the spaghetti and meatballs or whatever. The first semester of my freshman year, I could've chosen to use that info, but for the most part I ignored it and continued to eat the 1100 calorie fettucine alfredo and the 900 calorie burgers. When I decided to get healthy and was counting my "Points", I really liked that I could choose something like vegetable soup or a veggie burger over mac and cheese or something. I guess it could possibly trigger an eating disorder, but most of the girls that had an ED pretty much knew what they "could" eat and would stick to those foods. I think for the most part, it helps more than anything.
bethinabox bethinabox 6 years
My school posts the calorie count for all the foods, and I'm very glad they do. Although sometimes the serving size isn't clear. But I like having a general idea of how many calories I'm consuming.
mondo mondo 6 years
When the calories are posted, I find that my (better) choices are guided by the calorie counts. I wish my home state of N.J. would follow what N.Y. has done.
MariahGem MariahGem 6 years
Ok, maybe not jerks, but I seriously think these people are over thinking the issue and not allowing students to think for themselves. I don't think students are as vulnerable as they think they are. Don't they have anything better to do with their time than contemplate the bad things that can happen if you do something good like telling people the truth about what they're eating?
opentypeA opentypeA 6 years
Calm down, MariahGem. As someone who has HAD an eating disorder and been on both sides of the issue, I have to agree with a lot of the commenters that some people are more susceptible to eating disorders than others. Would I still have gotten an eating disorder had the calorie counts not been posted in my cafeteria? There's no doubt in my mind. And I support posting calorie counts in cafeterias, just like you, but to call people with differing views "jerks" is taking it just a smidge too far, don't you think?
MariahGem MariahGem 6 years
OMG, seriously? I think that the good that posting the calories of these foods right in front of you does FAR outweighs the few people that are going to "get eating disorders" from it. I mean MOST food has the calories posted on it, does that make millions of people anorexic? NO. The whole idea that these are "vulnerable students" is ridiculous, and over-thinking the issue!! Students aren't that vulnerable, and if anything, maybe they won't get the greasy pizza every day and lose a few pounds! I just hate stuff like this! People who think they need to over-protect the masses are just jerks who ruin life for the rest of us!
mek123 mek123 6 years
I think the good it will do far outweighs the few that have eating disorders.
charlotteannette charlotteannette 6 years
I think the idea of a "healthy cafeteria" is the best thing ever! I was so confused about nutrition in college, and i wanted to be thin and healthy, but I ended up eating bowls of cereal for dinner so often because I just didnt know what to pick in an overwhelming environment like The Marketplace (our college cafeteria).
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
Yoga - that is the freakiest thing I've heard in a while.
darc5204 darc5204 6 years
Disordered eating behaviors aren't the same as a full on eating disorder, and I think that a lot of college students display these regardless of calorie displays. I just don't believe that posting calorie counts is going to cause problems in those who didn't already have issues. Facing reality isn't a bad thing.
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