Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Counting calories on fast food menus
Should calories be posted on fast food menus?

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Today, the New York City Board of Health will vote on whether calorie information should be included on fast-food chain menus. I am really curious as to what you think about this. It is a fascinating glimpse into human behavior and decision making. Would it make a difference to you if you actually saw the number of calories posted?

The New York City Department of Health says "yes." It points to studies showing that nine out of 10 people grossly underestimate the number of calories in these meals, by around 600 calories. In case you're curious, a typical meal from a fast-food restaurant of a large burger, large fries and medium drink is around 1,300 calories (66 percent of daily caloric requirements for an average person). Dr. Thomas Frieden, who is the city's health commissioner, thinks people will pay more attention by simply seeing calorie information and that will lead to slimmer waist lines in the future.

The National Restaurant Association disagrees with that position. First, it argues that consumers really don't want that information on menus because it will look too "cluttered" and that consumers can already find the information on many company Web sites. It says that other labeling laws haven't made a bit of difference to the obesity epidemic. Foods in the grocery stores have been required to list all sort of health information for years, and yet waistlines keep expanding.

So, how about you? Would you be less likely to order a typical fast-food meal if you saw the calories posted? Should restaurants be forced to do it?

Tuesday afternoon update: The New York City Board of Health voted unanimously to require all city chain restaurants to post calorie data on their menus. Chain restaurants already must make the calorie counts of their menu items publicly available, but beginning March 31 they will have to put the numbers on menu boards and menus. The change will affect restaurants with 15 or more outlets -- roughly 10 percent of all city restaurants, according to a news release from the city's health department.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

If anyone really believes menus with calories would be "cluttered" they should check out the easy-to-read menu boards up at www.menulabeling.org.

Subway has been using menu boards with calories in its New York City outlets for several months now.

Jeff Cronin
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Yes, I agree that menus should include calorie information. It helps the people who are calorie conscious. It is true that information is on website but how many people remember that on the top of their head even if they want to know the calories. Coming to people who don't care about calories it does not matter if that information is there on the menu or not.
I think it would make a difference in how I look at fast food. I think the argument that the National Restaurant Assoc. puts forth is flawed because fast food is a different type of eating, it's more comfort oriented than shopping at grocery store and preparing one's own food. When I buy fast food it's because I don't want to take the time to prep my food, wait/pay for a sit down meal, or I'm simply on the go. I would alter the type of meal I purchase at a fast food restaurant if I knew that the meal I was about to consume represented 2/3 of my energy inputs for the day.
Too cluttered!!? That is ridiculous, and the idea that customers are going to go online to look up the nutrition facts is equally laughable. Most menu choice decisions are made in a spur of the moment atmosphere, and I suspect that anything hindering that will be found objectionable by the fast food marketers. The only thing they want to see lightened is the diner's wallet.
Restaurants are just waffling (no pun intended!) because they realize that if consumers are confronted with the facts about how calorie-laden and unhealthy their products are, sales will decrease.

It would be wonderful if the availability of this information created more consumer demand for healthier fast food options -- restaurants have claimed for years that the reason they don't offer lighter fare is that there isn't enough demand for it.
Please include the calorie counts on the menu! Of course we want this information!
I think it would helpful to post that information, then people can make an informed decision. Most fast food is not good for you, this would allow you to choose healthier IF you wanted to. If you want to clog your arteries with 60 grams of fat in the 2 for $2 biscuit sausage "breakfast" sandwich, go for it. Also, the statement that 1300 calories is 66% of the average persons calories is based on 2000 calories and 60 grams of fat for an active person. How many fat grams in that representative meal? Typically, you would be at or over that limit with just the one meal.
Let alone the other 2 meals and snacks and super flavored coffees.
This is important information and I believe fast food and prepared meals are part of the reason we have extreme obesity in America. Lack of exercise, being another. Give us the choice then we can choose with our wallets...
After taking a few bites of a BK double cheese burger I noticed that the caloric content was printed on the white paper wrapper. I was shocked by how bad for you fast food really is and promptly threw out the half eaten burger.
The problem is, I bought the burger in the first place cause I only had $2 to spend on lunch. Fast food restaurants might not feel as threatened by the idea of posting caloric content of their meals if they had healthy offerings for the same price as unhealthy offerings
People who are calorie-concious won't go to the fast food restaurants in the first place. For others that information won't make a lot of difference - I guess it's a common knowledge that fast food is not that healthy, so if people still eat there it means they don't really care.
This certainly isn't a bad idea, but it's imperative that this be applied to ALL restaurants, not just corporate fast food joints. Places like Cracker Barrel as well as five-star fancy-pants places. I'd set a gross revenue level that would exclude small, mom and pop type places. For an example, any restaurant that grosses more than $100K annually (an arbitrarily chosen number), whether they have an exclusive dining room in Manhattan or twelve strip mall sites spread across eastern Illinois would be compelled to provide relevant health info.
High intake of calories is of course not a good thing for one's health. But eating high calories alone is not as lethal as most people think.

Dr. Colin T. Campbell, nutrition professor at Cornell University conducted a landmark epidemiologic study in China and found the Chinese in rural areas eat each day 300 or 400 calories more than the Americans do. But the rate of obesity and overweight there is much lower than the United States. why? He said in his book titled 'The China Study", what you eat matters in this regards. Those Chinese people eat mostly grain products and vegetables, which are far much easier than meat and dairy products to be digested and used.

I predict that the NY city regulation won’t reduce much of the obesity and overweight rate in the city.

Dr. David Liu
Realizing that there is no way I can judge how my meal is prepared in a restaurant setting, calorie information, at a minimum, is just good sense. It offers all of us the basic information we need to make better decisions, without mandating any decision on anyone. I can't understand why this hasn't been in place for years. It's same type of consumer protection legislation that I rely on when buying a car or shopping in a grocery store.
Yes I do want this info on the packages, please feel free to clutter away.... :-)

Also support the anti- Trans Fat campaign !!!!
I think they should include calories and also % fat. Big Mac and Large Fries is 1136 calories, of which 50% is fat.
I would definitely use the information if calories were posted. I won't necessarily not order a fast-food meal, as time restrictions may prevent my preparing my own meal or I may be out of town for work or vacation.

I currently try to look up calorie information for places I go to, as I am counting calories for my diet. For some places, this can be difficult or impossible to find, which makes me LESS likely to eat there, as I do not want to sabotage my diet.

As for the National Restaurant Association saying that other label laws haven't made a difference for the obesity epidemic, I think there are a number of factors here. When looking at food labels, it can be tricky, as you need to look at what the label says a serving is and how many servings a package contains. There needs to be education on that as well as how many calories someone needs to maintain their weight and lose weight. Dr. Gupta's claim of 1300 calories being 66 percent of daily caloric requirements for an average person works out to be around 2000 calories. I don't know what an "average person" is in this case, but they'll probably be needing to be exercising at least 3 times per week. 2000 calories with little exercise would cause me to gain weight and I am already overweight.
Menus include prices and optimistic photos of food items. They should include calorie, sodium, and fat content information as well.
This unnecessary step will do nothing for obesity. Very much like the nutrition information on the website or on the wall, this additional information will soon be ignored as well. All this will accomplish is costing restaurants more money, which in turn will make food cost more and further destroy small business. While giant fast food chains can pay for proper nutritional information, how is the “mom and pop” shop going to be able to make sure they have proper nutrition facts? Also who will be paying for the monitoring of this law? Will we have special food police that will visit restaurants and make sure that the menus feature the proper nutrition? Will said authorities take samples of menu items to a lab and test to make sure that vendors are compliant?

This sounds like a good idea to help combat obesity in America, but is an impractical step in obtaining that goal. I challenge you to find someone who is convinced that hamburgers and french fries offer anything besides a full stomach and a little indulgence.

Perhaps take the tax dollars for this program and steer them at public service messages about healthy eating. Or you could use the money to help with youth and adult sports leagues, but forcing restaurant menu regulation is a scary step this Chef hopes this country does its best to avoid.
I think this is unfairly targeting the working poor.

Eating out anywhere is a calorie ridden extravagance. If people knew the calorie count on dinner they just had at the fancy steak house, they might be inclined to throw up!

I would like to see this law enforced for all food service locations.

There are very few healthy and cheap options for the working poor who dont have the luxury of time to cook at home. There is no point in making the fast food restaurants the scrape goats. The only effect that I see is that the working poor are going to have their lack of healthy options (healthy food, time to exercise, access to preventive medicine) all rubbed in their faces.
In France, all fast food chains display the calorie count on the carton/wrapping/cup of each item, plus % of standard daily intake for major categories (fat, carbs, even sugar. when you see them add up on your tray, it really makes you think, and even the kids talk about it and are more conscious about what they're eating.
Yes they should. At the time you are ordering food at a fast food place you don't have the company website in front of you to check it out. Once I saw the calorie and sodium counts of foods I would normally eat at a fast food joint, I made totally different choices from the menu.
Get real. I can't believe that there are any people around who would walk into , say, Berger King to get a Whopper and then say "no! too many calories". There has been so much information published over the years that give the caloric count, people know. They just don't care.
My vote is "yes". However, if this is to be achieved, the raw numbers (e.g. calories, grams, etc.) should not be the only thing that's posted. There should be an additional column or row that shows the percentages of each.

The problem is that the unconscious consumers in this country will not know what the numbers really mean, unless there is a column that states that this burger equals 110% of your daily fat requirements (among other categories). It needs to be spelled out for them.

I think that this will work better than posting information online, because it will spur the calorie angel on the other shoulder. Even if it deters people into eating a single-patty burger as opposed to a double-patty burger, then it's a start.

On the other side, part of the population will be unresponsive to this method, because some people just don't care. This, of course, does NOT mean that the rest of the population should not have the chance to be conveniently informed.
Every state should follow New Yorks lead !! The food and drug administration should be pushing for this.....

All resturants should be required to do this.
Calories are not as important as the amount of Cholesterol in foods and fats, any kind. It is surpricing to find out that many people still believe that chiken breast is good food, but if you have high cholesterol you will see that chiken breast is high in cholesterol and in a fast food place with all the fat added and salt it is a killer food, be careful. jose
YIKES! Did you know that a double with chesse at McDonalds is a mere 770 calories.

I know because I used to eat that stuff at McDonalds until I read the web published info about the calories in their products.

I think it should be published at the restaurant and on the hamburger wrappers. And maybe when people will stop eating that stuff they will come up with more healthy products than what they now offer.

Just my 2cents worth
McDonalds has information on the back of their tray liners, I read it last time I went, and am now trying to avoid eating at any fast food restaurant. I was amazed that it was over 1000 calories for a quarterpounder value meal. That is if I didn't eat the medium fry.
We live in a very crazy diet world. It seems like every day, someone has something new to say about the "dangers" of fast food. Now, we're going to have calories on the menu, and I can see that people will be like, "Oh I only ate 600 calories today, so I can go ahead and have this other thing." Little by little, the conscience eater will go over his/her calories limit. Sure, he/she ate a small meal at some fast food joint, but then when she/he went home, they ate more, and more, and more.

I personally think posting calories information will do nothing. People need to let go of the diet mentality and start living life smart. Just practice balance, moderation, and variety... and exercise... and you will maintain a healthy weight. You don't need this calories counting stuff... look at people 50 years ago... no one counted calories and yet obesity only started when "calories" became an issue.
Nutritional information is more than just calories. As a parent of a child with diabetes the nutritional information makes it possible to choose lower carb alternatives or at least calculate the appropriate insulin dose to cover the meal's carbs.
it frightens me how many people are willing to go along with additional government mandates on fast food restaurants. Individuals need to take back control of their lives and their diets, and break themselves awy from the government teet. If consumers want this action to be take place, they can join together and discuss the issue with Fast Food Corporations. This reliance on government conflicts with individual and capitalist freedom.
The key is to educate consumers, however, there are more-effective and less-effective ways. Attempting to educate someone in the "heat-of-the-moment" is a less-effective way. When someone is having a "burger-attack," they really don't care about the caloric content, or even if it is really made of beef. In this case, posting calorie information on menus is equivalent to posting the death statistics associated with speeding on speed-limit signs.

A more effective way would be to associate the "good behavior" with a more-short-term benefit. For instance, some insurance companies give customers monetary compensation for going through educational programs, either by attending a class or having a telephone consultation with a nurse or dietician. This gives people a direct incentive, and provides them a more complete education. New York could take the same direct approach by offering people a tax credit for taking a city-sponsored class at a community college or hospital/clinic within the city limits.

In short, putting calories on menus assumes two things: 1) people know how to count ;-), and 2) people know the difference between high calories and low calories. "Hmmmm, what should I get... the 700 calorie sandwich or the 1000 calorie burger?" HOW ABOUT NEITHER! Having the knowledge to make wiser decisions comes with a more complete education.
This is the information-age! I want to know how bad (or good) the food is I put into my body. People can use this information, or not, but the point is this information should be more publicly available than simply on-line.

Additionally, I think all restaurants should be obligated to tell consumers what is in their food. Health, I think, trumps any concern over aesthetic presentation of fast-food menus. Those who don't care about what they eat can continue to eat blindly, but the rest of us would benefit from such knowledge! Hell, I would probably eat fast-food MORE if I knew exactly what I was eating!
Recently, I heard that restaurant nutrition labeling rules were issued in Taiwan or Malaysia. Is anyone aware of new rules for menu labeling outside of the US?
They are literally poisoning people and should be forced to ante up for all the health problems they've caused such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. They are killing as sure as the tobacco companies do and should fess up and then pay up.
My guess is that if there are any behavioral change in the consumers it would be temporary.

I like the idea of placing calorie content on the wrappers as a first step. Posting the info on menus should not be discriminated amongst fast food restaurants only. This information if required, needs to be done for all restaurants as one poster mentioned, there are plenty of calories in fancy and upscale restaurants.
if people doesn't change their habbit their is no point of running after the big companies like mcdonald's, coke and others, it is not companies fault that someone is eating more than required! try something that will force people to do excercise like after doctor recommendation if a person doesn't reduce their weight they may lose health insurance or service to some extent, simply put pressure on consurmer not the producer!!
Without knowing the details of this law, I have to say that I think it would be terribly difficult to enact or enforce in a fair manner. How do they decide who has to include this information? Isn't it a little hypocritical to target chains when we allow all sorts of other restaurants to operate without divulging ANY information to their customers?

If we only apply this law to the big chains, it's incredibly unfair and disingenuous --- if it's successful at all, it will only cut down on competition for the mom and pop stores selling similarly disgusting foods. People will go where they have some plausible deniability. After all, there are lots of reasons why people underestimate the number of calories in their meals --- not the least of which is some innate shame and discomfort. I believe that if this has an impact --- most of it will result in people buying the same meals from people who aren't required to list this information, and where people can rationalize it as being "less processed" or "home-made" and therefor "must be healthier."

And, if we apply this to everyone, we place far too big of a burden on the small business owners who can't afford to keep up with caloric and nutritional testing for any and all menu items.

Why don't we use our time actually educating people on how to make healthy decisions. Or, find a way to positively spin this program. Even offering tax incentives for any company willing to place such information in the hands of their customers at the point of purchase would be a more tasteful way of handling this, and might even make it reasonable to enforce.
The National Restaurant Association argument is based on the fact that restaurant meals are often customized by patrons or chefs. As a result, posted nutritional information would not be accurate. Inaccurate nutritional information might lead to lawsuits by patrons. However, I know several state governments are considering menu labeling laws. Also, I heard that restaurant labeling rules were issued in Asia, but I have not confirmed this.
Give the option to the consumer. Maybe some people won't change their eating habits, but some probably will. At least give us the knowledge to choose.

If fast food places are worried it will decrease their sales, then shouldn't they be worried that ingnorance is what's harming the health of their customers? And if they don't think it will make a difference, then why don't they post the information?
there are alotta people out there who do not access company websites for information pertaining to calorie content..i think its absolutely essential for that information to be included in the menus
I am not opposed to requiring restaurants to post the calorie counts on their menus, but I believe it should be applied to all restaurants, not just fast-food restaurants. Some of the calorie counts on the dishes at New York's finest restaurants I'm sure are way higher than a Big Mac and fries. Are we assuming that the type of people who eat at a high-end restaurant already know th is, yet the person who eats at a fast-food chain doesn't? It seems like a decision based on economic class more than anything.
The National Restaurant Association disagrees with that position. First, it argues that consumers really don't want that information on menus because it will look too "cluttered"?? What a line!

I'd love to know how many calories my meal contains.
as an avid calorie counter and as well as someone looking to lose a few pounds, i think posting caloric contents on fast food menus would greatly influence my decision making.
I say post it. For those who actively look at calorie information, this is information they already know. For those who don't really track their eating habits, it is a way to be 100% aware of what their eating. I personally use to carry around a little cheat sheet of calorie information for local fast food chains in my area! (don't judge me!) If we're honest, the average person doesn't go into a fast food chain expecting to eat "healthy". If America really wants to slim down, we need to stop eating fast food/carry out etc regularly. I grew up in a household where going to Mc Donalds was a weekend treat, not an all week affair.
I like to eat healthy, but I also eat fast food a lot. I have PDF menus from all fast food restaurants on my computer, and I consult them. The result is that at Burger King, I order the Garden Burger, mayo on the side, garden side salad, and diet coke.

Almost every restaurant already gives out copies of their nutrition information upon request. People who care about their health already consult these resources.
Come on people, Those of us that think putting the amount of calories an item has next to it on the menu, are kidding ourselves. Lets face it, when we go to BK or MD's the only thing we're looking for is that big nasty greasy double quarter pounder with cheese, supersized fries, and the 'DIET COKE'. It isn't going to make a difference. Those that do watch what they eat already don't eat there.
After spending a lot of time looking things up on restaurant websites and trying to justify the 'occasional' consumption of some of the worst fast food there is, I realized the only sensible choice for me was to stop eating it completely. I stopped rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and got in the lifeboat already.
Until a person takes responsibility for the impact fast food has on their health and actually care about eating what their bodies truly need, seeing the numbers won't make a lot of difference.
I think some will be horrified when they find out the calorie count of their fast food. The chains will simply be forced to include lower calorie, healthier food and we will all be happier. I might consider eating at fast food chains more often if they offered better choices.
What is the study that found that 9 in 10 cannot estimate calories well? I would like to read it.
Not sure about the effect this will have on peoples' decision-making, but what I am hoping will happen is that restaurants will make an effort to slim down their offerings to make them more reasonable as a meal. I live in NYC, and I'm quite pleased that the city is at least trying something proactive to help combat obesity.
One commenter complained that the cost of complying with this new regulation would increase the cost of fast food. As an economist, I wonder whether this is such a bad thing.

Simple economics dictates that an increase in the cost of fast food will prompt some consumers to substitute away from fast food (i.e. buy less fast food), since other choices would become cheaper, in relative terms. This decision is solely based on price, even if they don't care about newly-available health information. Of course, I can't say for sure how many people would eat less fast food due to this substitution effect, but there will almost certainly be some who do.

So I ask again whether the fact that this new regulation might increase the cost of fast food is really such a bad thing...
It would make a huge difference for me. I'm not much of a fast food person anyway, but I am a calorie counter. When I don't count calories I tend to over eat, and I am usually stunned by the amount of calories in some food. Just the other day I was trying to find the amount of calories in a slice of plain cheese pizza from a pizzeria. My research found anywhere between 350 to 650 calories...I opted for something in the middle. Since I keep a food log this is normal research for me but most folks will probably not look on the web for this info. I think it's best to give people the info. and let them decide whether or not to eat the food.
I most certainly believe that calorie information should be posted. I see people order salads because they think it's healthy, but in reality, there are 1000 calorie salads out there at fast food restaurants. Customers should know what they are eating!
If anyone is surprised to find a Whopper or Big Mac are hi-calorie items, then they have a whole other set of problems. Same goes for French fries. Come on people - Is it really going to change minds by having calorie counts next to fast food? Like Dr. Gupta's column says, the info on supermarket shelved foods hasn't stopped the weight trend. I can't see how this is going to do anything but drive up the prices, as the restaurants will need to recoup the new expense. It's a bad idea, and another move away from personal responsibility. How did people survive 50yrs ago, without all this info?
How about instead of posting the calories on the menus, posting nutritious foods on the menus! I don't think people realize that these fast foods are sucking the nutrients and energy right out of them. Not to mention, making them fat. I started a non-profit organization, Americas Personal Trainer org to help educate others on this topic and also to demand healthier foods be served. Sign my petition on my website that demands healthier foods be served at restaurants and schools. Take action. Get fit. Demand healthy foods that feed your mind and body.
Looking at these comments, it's amazing how little people really understand about the importance of being informed regarding nutrition and food. We as a society have become so disconnected from our food source, we do not recognize the big picture.
Do not assume that because you many not be motivated to change means everyone else is also not motivated. Yes, the information is out there, online, or printed (somewhat) within the restaurants themselves, but the disconnection people have with their food, and what it really is, can change with awareness and understanding. I know that I am fortunate in many ways. For one, I live in New England, which means lots of organic produce available, six months fresh, and six months through large chain supermarkets. I have also recently changed my eating habits to become vegan, with fish or seafood once per month as the exception. Without meat or meat by-products in my diet, EVERYTHING has improved: health, medical conditions, sleep, it's very amazing. No coffee, so no expensive lattes from Starbucks, no fast food visits (read "Fast Food Nation" if you really want to read a horror book), and a reduced, yes, reduced food bill. I don't think the average person realizes just how expensive animal protein is.
Some people might laugh at the thought of no meat, but the benefits, such as rapidly losing weight, hair and nails that now grow almost twice as fast as before, and a phenomenal increase in concentration more than make up for anything I might have sacrificed.
Food for thought.
There are a fair number of ridiculous responses.

A consumer has the right to be informed at the time of purchase. To say, as many have, that this information is already available online and on some packaging materials ignores the fundamental effects of juxtaposition. If the McDonalds menu were forced to note calories and sodium content *on the menu* the results would be very different than simply having this information available online for the concerned.

There are already respondents who complain that this is an intrusion of the consumer's right to eat unhealthily if they choose. First: being informed does not necessitate taking a particular action. Second: as long as my insurance premiums and health-care environment are subject to decisions of others, I very much prefer that they be informed about what they consume.
Most fast food purchases seem to be impulse buys; having calorie info, at least for me, would prompt me to find something with fewer calories, even when I'm really hungry... Lower calorie, yet filling, would lead to lower caloric intake. Hey, I just try to avoid the fast food if at all possible, and then again the calories from all other food places aren't published... One of these days, they may be....
Yes, it will definitely change how I order if I can see the nutritional values. I hope other cities adopt this soon. We have a serious food problem in this country and something needs to be done about it. Thank you, NYC!
Educated, health-oriented people DO care about the calories in their food. This benefits those that take an interest in what they are eating.

To all those who say it won't make a difference, perhaps it won't to those who are obese and don't care.

But it certainly will help the people who:

A. DO care what they eat to stay in shape and
B. Those who are obese and want to do somethng about it.

It's a helpful tool, plain and simple.

And who does it hurt? The fast food places? Please. They would gladly step over your dead bloated corpse for an extra buck and the chance to poison our next generation.
Obesity will continue to be a problem as long as people believe it's someone else's responsibility to watch their food intake for them. This measure is just the latest chapter in blaming restaurants for contributing to obesity. Sure, some people might see the calories on the menu and think 'good god that's a lot, better eat something healthier.' But for every one of them, I predict at least ten obese people who'll just go on eating, ignoring the number, and continuing to blame their obesity on something other than themselves. It *is* possible to change one's diet, but the first step is realizing that no one else can do it for you!
I absolutely think that nutritional information should be readily available for ALL restaurants, not just fast food places and chains. If not on menus than at least by request or on websites. That said, the NYC DOH is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

After years of reading about food and adopting healthy eating habits, I am a fairly good judge of what the better choices are when I pick up a quick lunch or head out to eat. That said, you NEVER KNOW what restaurants are actually putting in the food. Caloric, fat, and sugar intake on something "healthy" like a salad or a broth-based soup might be much higher than the average consumer thinks.

Will this measure stop people from eating fast food? No. There are many people out there who know that fast food is unhealthy and eat it anyway. Individuals must make their own dietary choices. But information should be readily available for those of us that want it.
This is a good start. However, I would like to see the menu display SODIUM levels also. I wish the entire food industry would do something about sodium content.
I do not think the calorie information on a menu will stop a customer from ordering from the restaurant. They have walked into the restaurant for hunger. What I do see happening is that they will order items that would be more "healthier", if fast food joints actually have such a thing.
I am in favor of the calories being listed for each item. I think some people will benefit from it. If this were nationwide and it helped only 1% of consumers who eat at McDonald's make better choices, then it would help 27,000 people per day (Business Week says that 27 million people every day eat at McDonald's).

The National Restaurant Association is against it because of the cost of redoing menus and of course because the members are comfort pushers (they don't sell food they sell comfort). So how comforting is it to see that you are making a bad choice. For those that choose to pay attention to that, not very and they will make a change. However I predict that the benefit will level off and eventually it will have little or no impact on the fast food industry's profits.
I have tried every diet on Earth, and nothing worked until I started using a website that allows me to enter all my foods for the day, along with all my daily activities. In other words, I didn't lose weight until I actually saw how many calories I was consuming on a daily basis. I was horrified!

So I modified my diet, started exercising more, and now try to burn at least 500 more calories per day than what I eat. And on the rare occasions when I do eat fast food, I immediately cut all the portions in half (because I'm aware of how many calories there are).

So, yes, I do think posting calorie content will work. I'm 30 lbs. lighter now for that exact reason.
Someone counting calories for health reasons would not be expected to eat regularly at these types of restaurants. This action will probably have no effect what most customers choose to order or eat, because it is those who frequent these types of restaurants who are most likely to ignore their calorie intake in the first place.
I personally don't think that posting calories on the menu's of fast food chains will be the defining factor in lowering obesity rates. I think its more of a bandaid that doesn't reach the deeper issues. The fact is, if you really watch what you eat and try to minimize calories/fat, you won't be walking into a fast food joint. The calorie listings might be a bit more effective in a sit down restaurant, where consumers expect higher quality food and may not realize that it can still be very unhealthy, almost as bad as fast food. I also think that those wanting to fight obesity should consider looking at a study I saw on CNN not too long ago, commenting on how obesity was linked to income. Healthier choices are there, but not always affordable. Posting nutritional information is not going to do much to deter someone who can't afford anything better on a daily basis.
I know from my dieting experience, reading the nutritional information made the biggest overall difference in what I ate. I'd be so close to eating something that maybe I even thought was healthy, but then I'd be blown away by the calorie count and wouldn't be able to put it in my mouth knowing how bad it was for me. I lost 40 lbs and I attribute it to this habit. This can only be good for people.
Give me a break,, this calorie label on the menu board is not going to do anything. It will however cause undo cost to the owner of the places, if your going to do it to one, do it to all of the 5 star and so forth.. Because it will not have any affect on peoples obesity.. Mark my words ,,just like the labels on the food you but at the grocery store,, Tell me has that worked ??? I dont think so.. Get a grip !!! do we really need another LAW to tell us what and what not to do.. AGAIN , GIVE ME A BREAK,, WE ALREADY HAVE TO MANY LAWS ON THE BOOKS.... Todd from Texas
Knowledge is power, but knowledge needs to be easily accessible to have the greatest effect. Believe it or not, but there are actually people out there that don't have consistent access to the Internet to look up the nutritional info.

If posting calorie information next to items helps at least one person every day, make a healthier choice, than the effort is worth it.
At what point are people going to take responsibility for eating habits? Yes, I agree that health information should be made available so people can make smart choices, if they want to. However, this is not the answer to fighting obesity. The people you're trying to reach will hardly care, and they already know it's unhealthy. It's like telling a smoker cigarettes are bad. Yes, he knows. But he's smoking anyway. Take it from someone who used to be obese, and worked hard to be healthy. When I took responsibility for my life and stopped blaming the restaurants for making food fatty, and the commercials for looking so yummy, and the tv for being so entertaining and causing me to sit on a couch all day, that's when I made better choices and lost weight. Posting calories on a menu is good, don't get me wrong. But for the people you are trying to reach, it is just something else to ignore.
Printing the calories of a food item on the menu is one thing...having that number be accurate is quite another.
Who verifies these caloric counts are correct?

Wasn't it "Super Size Me" where Morgan Spurlock pointed out the discrepancy between the calories listed on McDonald's website and the calories measured in an independent lab?

Even if these calories are verified in a third party laboratory, because of the way these short order cooks assemble the meal, there could be more mayo on this burger than that one, more fries in that serving that this one...there's too many variables at play to ensure accuracy.
Great, but why do regular restaurants not have to do the same. I bet people would be shocked to see hom many calories are in their appetizers, Salads, soups and entrees, as well as the drink they select when out to eat at a classy restaurant. Seems like discrimination to me
If you're truly calorie-conscious, you simply avoid ALL fast food restaurants. Too much time, energy and money is being expended on this issue.
Absolutely. In early January 2008 I joined thedailyplate.com. I realized within a matter of days just how many calories I consume on 'a typical day': On a couple of days over 4,000 calories, and on several other days 3,800+--far beyond healthy for my 5'10", 32yo, female frame. On days where I called myself 'watching what I ate', I easily consumed 2,400-2,800 calories. And wondered why I weighed 298 lbs.

One psychological epiphany for me over this past month is that eating mindlessly does not cause calories to pass through my body unstopped. A bag of chips consumed out of boredom will settle in my body, all 500 calories. A couple of 'tiny, several-calorie pieces of chocolate' eaten absent-mindedly is actually 200 calories that takes me 15 sweaty, agonizing elliptical minutes to burn off.

I have discovered as a daily plate member that it is not as easy to obtain fast food calorie information as the restaurant industry would have you think. It took me over 5 minutes to actually locate the nutritional information on McDonald's web site. That's pretty slow for a computer literate person who started with "www.McDonalds.com".

I'm trying to make a habit of treating my calorie intake like dollars spent. I now ask myself, "how many calories do I have in the bank at this moment?" "Can I afford to consume this much?" And best of all, "Is the respite from boredom worth the health erosion?" Don't get me wrong--I still enjoy Round Table, McDonald's, and sugary coffee. But I've dropped 5.25 lbs. over the past 3 weeks, consuming all of that stuff, because I'm trying to pay attention to how OFTEN I consume junk, I'm eating more vegetables/fruit, and I'm on that elliptical machine/swimming pool more often. If starbucks (SIX HUNDRED CALORIE COFFEE??????????!!!!!!!), McD's, and Pizza Hut were forced to tell me what I'm REALLY eating, I might still eat it :), but they may also provide me with some healthier choices for which i can exchange my business with them.
Putting the calories on the menu is a great idea. They should also post it on the package boxes and food wraps, and of course the restaurants won’t want this. It has a great chance of making people eat less. Why would restaurants want people to eat less?
Just thought somebody should point out that overweight/obese individuals have a higher risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. With the number of persons with diabetes reaching epidemic levels in this country, the amount of Carbohydrates in each serving would be very helpful as well.

I am an insulin dependent diabetic, so I have made it a point to visit the restaurant websites in order to print a copy of their nutrition information, but many -- if not most -- diabetics have not, and perhaps will not, make this extra effort.

It might just be easier to insist that the fast food restaurants hang a framed poster of their Nutrition Information on the wall of each location so that consumers can get the information they need before they select from the menu.

Barb Cantrell, MS, CHES
San Antonio, Texas
No doubt about it. Put the calorie information on the menus. I am sure these food chain corps. will find a way to make the menus look "uncluttered". It will also encourage these companies to promote healthier alternatives with greater variety a la Subway. Help us not to trade our health for convenience sake!
People are going to eat whatever they were originally going to eat. I don't think publishing the information will make much of a difference in people's choices.
I am not one for mandates but this one I fully support. People need to be informed and I for one was highly surprised by the calore and fat content of many of these meals. I believe this will help people such as myself make more informed decisions. "Clutter" is not the reason restaurants are opposing this, but rather "sales" should be cited as a more honest answer. I would further say, tax them and tobacco companies a special healthcare cost, as they often are the indirect culprit of high healthcare costs!
I would appreciate such information, even though I don't eat fast food very often. However, I'm not sure it would make much of a difference for the average fast food consumer. Let's let New York serve as a trial city and see what happens.
I think the Restaurant group is crazy saying the typical user does not want a menu cluttered.

A good designer can make a calorie menu (or anything for that matter) and give you a eye-catching design that looks as good or better as a menu with calories.

Some people say calories don't matter. I think they have everything to do with it. Our portion size has increased dramatically. 50 years ago a small fry was small. A large fry 50 years ago would not even be the size of a kids (smallest) size at most restaurants.

Calories definitely matter. I think we have a right as a consumer to know what we are putting into our body.

The problem with New York City bill is it does not go far enough. I think EVERY restaurant should post calorie information. Some people say this will stifle small boutique restaurants. The market will quickly evolve to make products for small restaurants to help them with printing menus with calorie information. It's rather easy to build a meal on all sorts of websites like www.simpleweight.com to come up with a total calorie estimate. The problem is when you eat at a restaurant you do not know what you are eating.

I've tried many times to ask the waitress or go online, and I have failed many times.

Great Job, New York, now lets get the rest of the US restaurants to follow suit.
Nutritional information is on everything we buy at the supermarket. When that law was passed, the same thing was argued, that it would allow consumers to make more educated choices and we would eat healthier. Well, that was a complete failure that the government doesn't tell you about. Now the "food police" are trying essentially the same thing in restaurants and it just won't work there either. The government needs to get off our backs and realize that they cannot regulate our lives when it comes to what we eat.
I thinks it's really a stupid requirement. Make the counts available in the store somewhere like a in a pamplet. Many already do this. Those who really want to know, will look at the pamplet. I've done this and eat with many people who say they don't care. The requlation presumes the consumer is basically ignorant. Does anyone really think the average person doesn't know that a burger and fries has more calories than the salad or the grilled chicken? Obseity is not caused by lack of information. It is caused by bad choices driven by economics, convenience or habit.

Randall Barbour
an average consumer
NY should be thankful that the City Board of Health is taking action to protect its health one step at a time. What drives menu labeling policy is the fact that without nutrition information, it is extremely difficult to compare options and make informed decisions, something very important for those trying to manage chronic diseases through dietary changes or for those just trying to make healthier choices. More informed dietary choices when eating out could help reduce calorie over-consumption and the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol… Fortunately, for those in the nation's capital, Washington DC has started advocating for menu labeling as well.
Everyone knows that fast food is generally high in calories and anyone that is really concerned will find the best alternative without changes. This is just nanny-state intrusion from people with too much time on their hands who want to look like they are doing something.
Since when is NYC my mommie or my doctor? How could they possibly know what's good or bad for me? I certainly do want to see the calorie count so I can order anything that's over 1000!
It's a good idea to post calorie information for consumers. The impact will be varied, and will effect different consumers in different ways. It will shift the bell curve of consumers toward the non-consuming end. The marginal consumers who barely eat such foods might stop altogether as the visibility of the caloric data pushed them to the left, and out of the consuming curve entirely. In the middle of the curve, the most frequent consumers will be influenced to consumer less often, or to order less food, or both. The extreme consumers might not be effected at all, although many might reduce their intake slightly with this new information. It's all good, even though not everyone will make excellent and wise use of the data.
I already avoid some restaurants (such as Cheesecake Factory) because of their refusal to share nutrition information. Now no sensible person thinks a meal at CF, for example, is going to be anything but a diet-buster, but I'm very curious whether a portion has 2000 calories or 4000. It makes a difference. And given the wide range of values possible for a single dish, having nutrition information available would definitely play a role in what I ordered. I'm not a calorie freak, but I believe consumers have a right to "informed consent."
Of course more accurate information would empower the consumers and help them manage their own health! I remember clearly years ago when food industry fought the law of having to list the nutrition table on the packaging. They said they can't find any more space and it'll co
cost too much and the consumers ended up having to pay for all that work. Finally, the law passed and they had to put the nutrition labels on the packaging as we know today. Afterwards,I had encounter an old woman at a supermarket and she told me that she has diabetes and prior to the label law she can't tell what's in the food and didn't know what to eat. But now she knows how to manage her illness. I will never forget this encounter. It just tells me that sometimes the government has to force the food industry to do what is best for the health of its citizens. I applaud New York fordoing this!!! Another thought, someone should mandate a better labeling of the fat content in the food. I notice so many products simply list the fat content but not listing how much is polysaturates and how much is monounsaturates etc. Weknow that monounsaturates kind of oil is better for us, we need to be informed! Dr. Gupta, how about you helping to get the food industry give us better information of the kind of fat in their food?
I will still eat what I want whether there are calories listed or not, no one has the right to tell me what to eat and slowly that is what is happening.
I think this information should be on every menu at every fast food "restaurant" in the country. Maybe we as a country can start eating healthier and getting healthier and lowering the cost of healthcare. What are we waiting for???
As a calorie-counter and fast food lover, I don't like to deprive myself of certain foods that taste good to me. So I really commend NYC for doing such a great service to its residents. I like the idea that when I go to a fast food chain, I can know to order a smaller burger or know to share a heavily caloric item with someone. I'm tired of the fast food restaurants trying to deceive us. Did you know that McDonald's has steadily increased the size of its Big Mac for decades? It's important for the public to know what they're purchasing.
Judging from conversations I've had with family members and friends who are overweight, I don't think it'll make a huge difference. Most people don't realize how much work it takes to BURN calories because often these very same people don't do much physical exercise.

I didn't realize how much energy it took either until I started getting into shape 5-6 years ago-- now I weightlift and run 4 miles a day (I'm 23, 5'8, and down to 160 lbs from 210 lbs). My friends are always asking me for advice about food and calories and losing weight, and I usually reply along the lines of, "Think of it this way: that 800 calorie burger that will take you 5 minutes to eat. But it would require you to run about 5 MILES, which is about 45-55 minutes of near-constant running at 5.5-6.5 MPH or so."

The trick is to make people realize what a calorie is and to get them to have a personal frame of reference, like the unpleasantness of having to run around sweating for a whole hour, just to burn off that one burger. Simply posting the calorie content is a good start, but without actually understanding what 700 calories means would be more like sticker shock when you look at a price on a house or car. Yeah, people are taken aback at first... but that doesn't stop them from buying the car, now does it?
Yes, do publish the calories, but more importantly give us information that could save a life.

Millions of people have severe life theatening food allergies to Egg, Milk, Wheat, Nuts and Soy. More and more of these ingredients are showing up in our food as they become cheaper to produce and are used as fillers in the food. Soy is the fastest growing allergy in the world and many children and adults are seriously at risk. All restaurants and food suppliers need to be able to provide a complete list of food ingredients with all known allergens clearly identified. Not knowing does not help those of us stuck in a restaurant or airplane make a choice. We all need to eat and need to do so safely.
The obesity problem isn't caused by what people eat, but how people eat. Eating is a form of entertainment in the US. Food is made to be fun to eat. Food is something to do when you're bored. Food keeps you busy.
All the PSAs and fascist oversight the government can dream of won't change America's weight problem until we change our relationship with food.
The solution is not regulation. The solution is not throwing more money at the problem. The solution is not more studies.
...anyone who thinks such labeling will make a bit of difference is truly delusional. 99% of the public is totally apathetic...and lazy. Won't change a thing.

Just look at the way fast food chains have been pressured to offer fresh fruit and other healthier options. They're there...but no one orders them. People don't go to Hardee's because they want to buy a fruit & yogurt parfait - they go there because they want the 3/4 pound Uber-Baconater burger - all 3,000 calories of it. And that is precisely the point - people will buy at these places the food they want to eat, regardless of anything else that is available or the information that is provided to them.
It would definitely help to make a decision! If you don't have the information in front of you regarding calories and fat, it's very easy to order whatever looks the best.

If they put this up then I would definitely use it to judge what I want instead of what looks best. Fast food is by it's own nature a very unhealthy item, but sometimes you don't have the time to sit down at a restaurant with better choices!

Sterling, VA
Absolutely post that information. In my opinion, it's like not getting a bill.
Forget menus, put calorie information for each item and the total on restaurant and supermarket receipts. Eating a single unhealthy meal will not make you obese, and gradually people will go through the learning process to buy better items, not eat the whole portion or diet the rest of the day after indulging.
I agree with the several comments below that insist this law be put in place for all restaurants, not just fast food chains. While I understand that this small step won't make a huge dent in the obesity epidemic, it does give people the CHOICE to make decisions just seconds before ordering. I know I personally use the little symbols that Olive Garden puts on their menus denoting which items are low in fat and I've seen other restaurant chains do the same, how is this any different? Even if it's as simple as not being able to decide between two plates, it's providing more information which is always better than none. Subway has been doing this for years and I don't think people complain that their menus are "cluttered." If anything, it has helped their business.

Sure the vast majority of people may ignore the information printed on the menu, but not all will, and as far as $ and taxes are concerned, I (and I'm sure many others) have a million other issues that would score much higher on any sort of list of complaints about how our tax dollars are put to use...using money for this is the least of my worries.

I hope other cities follow in NYC's footsteps.
Calorie counts on the menu boards would be excellent. On the wrapper, not so good. By the time you see the numbers, you are trying to eat your lunch, and are unlikely to throw it away. Boards is better.
In Britain we have just started having traffic light food labelling in supermarkets.


It has proved popular, and interesting. Everytime I go around a supermarket I find out something interesting. I would recommend New York put these traffic light measures on fast food menus and it will make a real different.
The obesity concerns are valid, but when you try to fix one problem, you should be careful not to create another one. No one yet has considered the effect that this could have on someone with an eating disorder. Cases of anorexia and bulimia are rising all over the U.S. and since they are behaviors done in secret, they are not as plain for the "powers that be" to see as the obese person beside them. Calories are a fear to people with eating disorders. Put very simply, calories=fat to someone with an eating disorder. If they eat from a restaurant and are forced to be made aware of the calories they are consuming, they will immediately take steps to balance out those calories, by either not eating the next few meals, purging the food from their bodies, or by over exercising. This is why one of the first steps in helping someone with an eating disorder recover is to get them to STOP counting calories. Even food served in treatment centers are served out of their packages so that the person isn't faced with the calorie information.

While focusing so blindly on helping obese people trim a few pounds, these new rules are helping empower disorders that threaten to starve it's victims to death. Now, what good is a rule that does so little good, but has the potential for so much harm? What's next? Maybe NY can eliminate all wheelchair ramps to buildings and sidewalks to force obese people have to walk up steps for exercise.
I like the idea mentioned on this blog about France.

Wouldn't it be better to just put the calories/fat etc on the wrapper or drink cup or mark the contents on the menu?

Also, I agree with the calories/fat etc at mid-priced restaurants. Salads are killer at restaurants. I went to a restaurant and had the chicken salad with the dressing on the side.

I came home and checked the calories on-line. The total was 1,300 calories! I was shocked! Add in a roll or a slice of banana bread and you are at 1,600 calories for dinner!
Posting calories is already common in places like Sweden, home to one of the healthier populations in the world.
I really hope this sticks around this time. Some people may be against this because they don't want the government trying to tell them what to eat or will argue that everyone "knows" that fast food is bad for you. What laws like this really are, is the simple right to know.

You may think you know how bad fast food and chain restaurant food is, but you'd be surprised to hear just HOW bad it can be for you. Would you believe the "Guiltless Chicken Platter" at Chili's has more salt than their Cajun Chicken Sandwich? Or that a large chocolate shake from McDonald's has more calories than TWO Big Macs? The California Center for Public Health Advocacy brought these shocking facts to the attention of Californians last year.

I'm careful about what I eat and know that going to a chain restaurant isn't the best place to be eating a meal, but sometimes you just don't have a choice OR you want to enjoy a meal out but still want to be careful about what you're eating.

When that's the case, I want this information available when I'm making my meal decision. I don't want to have to carry my computer around with me so I can check nutritional information online, or read it in 7 point font on a poster in a dark hallway next to the bathroom or inside the wrapper of the sandwich I'm snacking on. I want this information available when I'm ordering so I can pick the healthier of the two options.

It's a simple matter of a right to know. Just like I can see the MPG on a car BEFORE I buy it, I should be able to see nutritional information on the menu BEFORE I order.
Calorie content on menu is
1) Useless, and
2) Counterproductive

It is useless because what the decision going into what to eat should never be made on just on calorie content. It should be made on the quality of the ingredients. If you are going into a chain restaurant, calorie content isn't going to help you make your decisions any better. The food is still the same.
Now, what's worse, is that in displaying this information, the calories will be more visible and thereby the need to reduce them will be a "healthy" thing that restaurants will do. Will they reduce the calories by reducing portion size and using better quality ingredients? No way, no day. Chemicals (fake food) with little to no value or taste will help create "healthier" low calorie menu items where portion sizes are still through the roof.

This law is awful and will create more health problems than it solves.
I am surprised that without calorie counts on the menu, people don't realize that fast food is BAD. My husband and I quit eating fast food about three years ago, and both lost about 60 pounds without changing ANYTHING ELSE about our lifestyle!

If putting the calories on the menu is what it takes for consumers to be aware of what they are consuming, then by all means! Clutter that menu up!
To help support MENU LABELING in WASHINGTON DC, go to www.dcvoicesformealchoices.org.

There, you can write a letter to your councilmember, email DC Voices for MEAL Choices, etc.

Spread the word... it's all about INFORMED CHOICES!
I know it's a lot easier when restaurants have this info available as you're ordering rather than looking it up later. I was shocked yesterday when I ordered a sandwich and found the calorie count later to be almost 600! Good thing I didn't have chips, too! I follow Weight Watchers, so this helps to calculate points. The sandwich turned out to be 13 points. I say post the info, just like you can find it in a Grocery Store.
YES! It's about time. I don't think any restaurant food should be treated differently than processed, packaged or canned foods. This is true for beverages as well. I love SBUX, but I think all the lattes and mochas consumed daily are going to have unfortunate effects and further boost the existing diabetes and obesity epidemics in this country. While we're at it, let's mandate 1/2 size portion options on all meals for diners as well.
I think that's a great idea, but it will only work for those who are paying attention to the nutrition information. My husband and I recently started to count calories using a simple spreadsheet and have been tracking our daily calorie consumption. We both eat variety of healthy foods, but we were gaining weight, so we allotted ourselves a limit for each day. However, trying to assess the daily amount was the hardest thing to do. Nutritionists and health-related web sites differed on what the ideal calorie intake was. We picked one that was somewhere in between and have been sticking to it. And just by counting calories, we've reduced about 500 to 600 calories a day. We actually didn't change our diet that much, we just eat fewer snacks. We have been slowly but steadily losing weight. We don't feel deprived nor do we feel like we're on a diet.
I'm a calorie conscious person and I LOVE fast food!

I always look up the fast food I plan to have ahead of time and pick and choose between what I can have and can't have.

I love fries more than anything, so sometimes I'll eat a tiny breakfast and a tiny dinner just so I can have burgers AND fries.

Having calories on menus will really help a lot. I live in California. California, please pass the same law.

P.S. Carl's JR's original six dollar burger is 1050 calories on it's own! That, with a small fries, is something around 1500 calories! That's over my daily intake! Makes me sad that I always have to go without fries if I want to order a 6 dollar burger, AND I have to split it in half, plus eat a tiny breakfast.
Dear Dr. Sanjay Gupta,

I have gotten very smart to work my way around fast food:

Each fast food place, such as Mc. DOnalds, Wendy's and even Starbucks has a menu with calorie and fat description.

For example: the Starbucks menu has a segment with items under 300 calories, which includes a low cal caramel frappucino for approx 230 calories.
It will definitely make a difference for me! About once every 6 months, I have a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese. When I ate one last week, I looked at the hamburger box just after I had finished eating and I was shocked at the high number of calories and fat grams! If I had looked at this information before ordering, I would have instead chosen something else a little less fat-ridden. Posting the nutritional information would change my habits. I think New York is doing the right thing.
If I would have known that there were as many as 770 calories in one of those Chick-Fil-A milkshakes...I know I would have never stopped at the drive-thru and bought one. I defeated the purpose of the Spin class that I had just left!!! Thank goodness for the internet.
There was an intereting article in this week's Wall Street Journal about several professional athletes (in particular, Tony Gonzalez, TE for the Kansas City Chiefs) who switched to a Vegan diet and were able to maintain, (if not improve) their athletic performance without sacrificing muscle mass, or body weight, all while adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Personally, I don't care about the calories a typical fast-food contains. I'm not an US reident so I don't know much about how Americans think about the calories. However, in my home country, mainland of China, some fast-food resturants have posted the nuturitions and calories for years, the typical example is McDonal's. While some other fast-food resturants haven't done that, such as KFC etc. But the fact is more customers prefer to consume at KFC rather than in McDonal's, for most of them don't care about the calories they just care about how the food tastes. As a matter of fact most Asians think so.

So I don't think resturants should be forced to do so.Of course, this is my own opnion.

Pengfei J.
I started "counting" calories last year and succeeded in loosing 60 pounds. I didn't eat out much during the process only primarily because it was too difficult to log calories at restaurants that didn't post their information. (Salt content was also a factor. Ugh!) Quiznos was the worst. I phoned once, and them 3 times -- including corporate offices -- for information on one of my favorite sandwiches. I was ignored all three times. I don't eat there anymore.
This law is a move in the right direction! Not only will it cause restraunts to offer healthier food options, but the overweight consumer can't claim ignorance as an excuse for eating so unhealthy.
Way to go New York City!

Certified Personal Trainer
I don't eat fast food ... but when I saw a Big Mac box w/ the calories and the fat content... I vowed to never ever eat one.

Dang.. it was crazy...
something like 30 or 35% fat.
I think the fries had the same amount.
I don't care if the food came from a rotting dead horse! When I'm hungry, I'M HUNGRY and you'd better get out of my way.
Wow! As a health & wellness professional, I commend NY for making moves in the positive! Someone stated it earlier, and I agree; it's about informed choices. If knowing what you will be putting in your body helps you make a better decision about your health, then it is worth it. I dedicate my days to teaching people how to exercise properly, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Hats off to other people and organizations who encourage the same.
sanjay, have you looked into the effects of plastics on obesity? i read somewhere that the chemicals they release promote weight gain.
Dr. Gupta
How have the health care costs increased during last 20 years? How does it compare with inflation and trends in other countries? I believe this also would have impacted on the problem.
I'm amazed at your report on this. I like how you liberals always talk about Canada, Europe and all the other countries that have National Health systems. Well as an Black American I have witnessed first hand what the other systems are like as my father-in-law in Spain died of colon cancer because he couldn't get to a doctor for two years after it was discovered. And I have many more stories like this of my wifes family that are now coming to the U.S. to get coverage. And I really like the fact that you talk about Mass, but you failed to point out the fact that Mass is running in the RED over that stupid program. Why not discuss all of the tax incentives provided to the drug companies for research, when are they going to return that to us, the people who paid for the drugs to begin with. GET REAL and honest about this. Paying your way works, only if everyone is doing what is right and the companies and government are in bed.
All restaurants should be required to post nutrition information. I know I would look at it, and it might motivate others who might not have thought about it to think about what they're ingesting. Restaurants that don't want to post it could hand out pamphlets - I think Subway does that...
It is quite interesting what they say in the article, that a large burger, large fries, and large drink provides 66% of the calories (1,300) that a normal adult requires in a day. I've found that if I have a meal like that around 10:30am, I won't feel hungry again until around 6pm, even if I skipped breakfast. Works out pretty well. I still have the remaining 34% of my daily calories to consume for dinner. But I can see how people could get in trouble if they have another similar meal for dinner, or they have breakfast and a good sized dinner on the same day. Just have to stay with moderation and not pig out all the time!
I agree that you can already look up the nutritional facts for the likes of Burger King but what about TGI Friday's, IHOP, Marie Callender's, et al. I want to go out and have a nice sit down dinner at these but I won't because I don't want it to "ruin" my weight loss plan. I think they would actually get more business (unless the facts are that they don't have anything to offer that would be acceptable).
The complexity of the calorie menus in New York is virtually useless to anyone except accountants and neurotics. More information is not necessarily good information. Package meals with calorie listing (ie. value meal #1 cheeseburger, small fries, diet coke = 500 cals) or grouping of value meals - 1,4,6,8 are in the 500 - 600 calorie range, would make sense, not an ala carte list on a massive board that is impossible to make heads or tails out of unless you stand in line with an excel spreadsheet.
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