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Will Calorie Counts on Chain Menus Curb Obesity?

Eating too many meals out can make our pants fit a bit more snugly, even when we're choosing what seem to be the healthiest menu items. Cities like New York and Philadelphia have mandated that chain restaurants print nutritional information on menu boards to increase awareness in terms of what we are feeding our bodies. Now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made California the first to implement these efforts statewide.

According to Newsweek, there's a plan to reintroduce legislation in the next Congress that would require chains across the country to print nutritional information. Do you think the presence of calorie and fat content would motivate people to make smarter decisions, or would Americans continue to dine on the unhealthy food that contributes to obesity?


Join The Conversation
jemimajane78 jemimajane78 8 years
I have hope for Americans!
mtiger mtiger 8 years
I hope it will help.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i think people should be first educated about what numbers actually mean. we, fit freaks, know, but does the public actually know what a 100cals or a 1000 looks and tastes like? Don't think so.
Swen Swen 8 years
I don't think it will help most people. Most are so ignorant about nutrition or they don't care. I stopped at a Starbucks in NYC recently and it definitely affected me. I was debating between 2 drinks, but once I saw the calories, the choice was clear which I wanted. I was hungry too and thought I'd get a snack, but just couldn't get one when I saw the calorie counts. It turned me off so much. I will eat sweets if they are delicious, but the Starbucks ones aren't good enough to justify the calories. I ended up eating a granola bar from my purse.
DevonJade DevonJade 8 years
At least people wont be able to say they didn't know. I love knowing the calorie counts, even if it is for high calorie foods. I don't feel guilty eating calorie dense things, I just make sure to eat accordingly the rest of the day, so having them post calorie counts would be helpful.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Probably not. In supermarkets, most foods, with the exception of fresh produce and meat, have nutritional information printed on them. Has that improved obesity?? No. JMHO.
kaytwo44 kaytwo44 8 years
I think it will help a little bit but if the education is not there (i.e. someone has NO idea how many calories he/she should consume in a day), the impact will be minimal.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I think it might help. There are obviously some people who don't care about making healthy choices and will continue to eat badly, but for people who think they're eating healthy and might not know what they're really ingesting, and people who really pay attention to what they eat anyway I think it'll be helpful. That 380 calorie tag for a piece of pumpkin loaf would definitely make me say "no thanks."
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 8 years
and I agree with PixelHaze...If I wanted to eat healthy while going to McDonalds...I wouldn't go!! I'm not going there to get any nutritional value or low cal foods...I'm going there to indulge on a juicy hamburger. Let me be unaware, because I'd rather enjoy my meal than feel guilty while eating it.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I know it'll affect me! I love knowing what I'm getting and I think it'll curb some of those splurges when I realize just how splurgey they really are!!
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 8 years
I think it's great for me, who likes to know how many calories I'm eating. I don't want to generalize people, but a lot of obese people are not going to let the caloric number stop them from eating something. If that was true, they wouldn't be buying the foods they do at the grocery store...they have plenty of nutritional information on the packaging. So no, I don't think it's going to change obesity, just help out those who are already curious about the foods they eat.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
deterrent... apparently, spelling doesn't count today.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Short story... Nathan's. Coney Island. I ordered a hot dog. I wanted chili cheese fries. I quickly learned that the chili cheese fries would put my meal at twice my daily recommended calories. I did not get the fries. No doubt it's a successful determent. But as for creating legislation... meh...
syako syako 8 years
I've said it so many times before... this is not the way to go. As it happened in New York, the legislation messed up so many other things that were working properly. The biggest example for me was that in New York, chains and restaurants who publicly displayed their calories counts either on their Web site or in brochures, were required to display calorie counts on menu boards. Well guess what happened? Instead of changing menu boards, these places took off their public calorie information so as to not have to comply with the new law. That meant that people across the nation were adversely affected by this, because nationwide chains that used to post their calories online, suddenly no longer made that info public so the whole nation was out in the dark. Thanks New York!
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
This would be awesome! I have no idea if it would curb obesity...but it would be great for everyone, period!
Haethre Haethre 8 years
I'm looking forward to the era when people eat healthfully and don't have to calorie-count. If I have 380 cals or fish topped with steamed vegetables, is that BAD? we need to start thinking of what we are putting into our bodies, which don't operate according to numbers. you can consume 1300 cals a day of absolute crap, or 2000 of healthful stuff your body needs. what we SHOULD have are mandated health classes in college/high school that actually tell us how to take care of our bodies!!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i don't think that it's really going to have quite the impact that they are hoping for. i see the cals on all the foods at starbucks when i go in, and i have to say that for me, it does completely turn me off from EVER thinking that i might want to buy a snack from there, but then again, i wouldn't have usually. i think that there are people who say that they are aware of what they put in their bodies but when it comes down to it, it's not really the case.
KAT0002 KAT0002 8 years
I think it would be a great help. I would love every restaurant to put calorie counters on all menus. I don't know if it will help fight obesity, but, it is still very helpful for the calorie counters out there!
macchiatolove macchiatolove 8 years
well, I'm not obese, so I'm looking at it from a merely "maintain or lose a little" point of view... But I have no idea what a good amount of calories is. So while some might find this helpful, I don't feel that I'm well enough educated about diet and things to really use this information to my advantage. Sad but true. I try to avoid cakes, cookies and muffins, as well as fastfood of any kind,I stick to one type of meat OR cheese in a sandwich (not both) I cut down on alcohol consumption and I drink skim milk in my coffee.. that's about the extent of my weightloss knowledge, LOL!
pixelhaze pixelhaze 8 years
I understand that this is good but honestly I don't want to know. In some parts of Latin America McDonalds began printing the nutritional info on its packaging and I HATED it!! It ruined my meal - it's not like I ate there all the time but when I did it was a splurge and I wanted to enjoy it. But knowing just how bad I was being meant that every bite came with a huge dose of guilt. I didn't stop eating - I just enjoyed it less. I already know that McDonalds is bad for me and that's why I don't eat there often, so I don't need to be guilt-tripped when I do indulge. Though I understand that for just about every other person out there this could be a very good thing. Im probably the only weirdo who feels this way :P
aangelaa aangelaa 8 years
yeah i don't know how much of a difference it would make with obesity but i would totally love it for myself. there are so many places that still refuse to post nutritional info anywhere. it makes me not want to eat out sometimes because you never really know how many calories you are eating...
jamiedynamite jamiedynamite 8 years
This is great- however if they are doing this I think it's only fair to make information available about how many calories an individual should be consuming in one day based on sex, height, weight, activity level...etc. I don't think the general public knows what to do with this information because the average person doesn't know how many calories he or she needs on a daily basis. WE know because we're here blogging and reading about fitness, but the average American might not have a clue whether or not 380 calories is a bit hefty for a snack based on his or her individual needs. WHEWW I don't even know if that all made sense I've had too much coffee today.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
I say no but it has nothing to do with denial. It has to do with economics - poor quality food stuffs are significantly cheaper than the healthy foods that people should eat. Until the cost and distribution of high quality organic unprocessed foods is available to every person in the country then people will continue to eat what is widely available and cheap. Take a look in any small "mom and pop" store on a neighborhood corner in a downtown area of a majority city - with perhaps the exception of some areas of SF and NYC you will notice no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables, no quality protein products instead everything is Cheetos, Doritos, Milky Ways and Coke or Pepsi. People know they should eat better but when what's readily available is crap, some humans adapt very well and learn to live by eating crappy food.
evietoo evietoo 8 years
Two big pluses: 1) Since I'll know what the calorie count is, I'll actually be more likely to order one of these foods. Since I basically assume everything at a Starbucks-like store (such as this) is 500+ cal, to find out something is lower is a bonus. 2) Vendors are inherently incentivized to create lower calorie options. What schmuck wants to put a muffin out there at 750 cals? Who is going to eat a 1200 cal cheeseburger? btw -- I'm happy with the calorie start and I'll take it, but I'd also love the fat and fiber grams. Is that too much to ask? 'Course, it's all too much to ask for me. Since I live in Chicago, I'm sure it will be years and years and years before this legislation makes its way to our city.
jkat jkat 8 years
I agree with previous posters that this legislation that would improve the health of country in several ways: 1) Provide information to those of us who already watch our calorie intake, but don't currently have access to the information because the restaurants do not provide it for all meals. 2) The "sticker shock" of the caloric and nutritional content of food that many people simply aren't aware of. 3) Having to put those "shocking" numbers on a menu might encourage restaurants to find lower calorie alternatives to oil, butter, etc., but still maintaining the tastiness of food. I bet their sales of popular items might decrease signifantly when then have to put 2000 calories and 60g of fat next to it on them menu. 4) It will absolve restaurants of any "you made me fat" lawsuits, since all the nutritional information was disclosed. That can help justify the cost of the printing the info on the menu.
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