Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Calories on Menus: Useful or Useless?

The FDA finally released their new menu labeling law. I know you all have probably been anxiously awaiting them for the past five years, just as the Northeast is anxiously awaiting Snowmageddon 2015...

What will this look like?
Basically, if you visit a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain of 20 or more, they will now be required by law to list calorie information on the menu starting in fall of 2015.  You may have noticed that some places have already been doing this for a while now, such as Starbucks. Here is what theirs looks like...

Why did they make a law about this?
Well, in case you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years, we are facing an obesity epidemic in the US. The rates of overweight and obesity have tripled in the past three decades. The factors for this rise in overweight and obesity is due to a variety of reasons but most can be attributed to eating too much and not exercising enough. That being said, this is one of the tactics developed to help combat the eating too much part. The thought process behind this if we provide people with information on how many calories are in the food they are eating, they might eat a little healthier.

How many calories do I need?
A very generalized number for the average adult is 2,000 calories a day. Again, this is a very generalized and does not account for sex, physical activity, age, etc. If you would like a more accurate picture of how many calories you specifically need in a day, I would recommend using MyFitnessPal

Does labeling actually work?
Research has bounced back and forth between helping people eat fewer calories and people wanting to “get their moneys worth” and actually eating more calories. 

What are your thoughts Beth?
Regardless of whether this will make people eat less calories or not, it is at least educating people and making them think a little bit more about what they are eating.  This may also make restaurants rethink some of their dishes that contain thousands of calories and maybe offer at least slightly healthier options.

On a personal level, when I go to a pizza place, I am not usually too worried about calories. I mean I did go there to eat pizza after all, which is not quite the healthiest thing. When presented with calorie information on the menu, I might be swayed to get the veggie pizza rather than the bacon weave crust pizza…

For me going out to eat at a restaurant is a treat for lack of a better word, so I typically will not eat as much the rest of the day because I know that I will be indulging a little more than usual when eating at a restaurant. However, those who eat out at restaurants frequently will obviously be impacted more so it may be more helpful.

Breaking it down
It is up to you if you actually want to use the information or not, but at least you now have to face the facts that those calories you eat on the weekend do count…

Is this going to magically fix the overweight and obesity epidemic? No, but it is a baby step in the right direction. It is helping people get to know their food better and (hopefully) understand nutrition at least a little bit.

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


No comments:

Post a Comment