After years and years of delays, finally, calorie counts will be on menus across the country and in turn, make us a healthier nation. It may also in turn save us millions of dollars on preventative health care costs.
This long-awaited addition to menu boards at chain restaurants, fast food establishments, convenience stores, super markets, movie theatres and vending machines is a decade in the making. Many critics think it is simply “big brother” stepping in where he doesn’t need to be involved. Supporters believe that it will help solve the obesity epidemic plaguing our country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called the new rule a “meaningful, incremental step” in curbing America’s obesity epidemic.
Establishments with more than 20 locations of grab-and-go foods must list the calorie counts for items it serves to inform consumers at the point of purchase so they can make a healthy choice.
Critics of the calorie counts and fast food industry lobbyists argue it will not help and people will eat what they want to eat regardless of the calories listed beside the item. They also see it as a way to erode business profits, since those businesses had to have the signs remade to include calorie counts. However, these are not small-town mom and pop shops, squeaking by to make a living. These mostly are comprised of super, mega multi-national companies who gross more than most people can reasonably fathom in the billions of dollars. Is it really hurting them or are they afraid it will ding their bottom line and people may eat less junk food now they know how many calories are in it? I think it’s a latter of the two, if you ask me.
Will it matter to those ordering a hamburger, French fries and soda if the meal has more than 1,200 calories (equal to a day’s worth of calories for most people eating a healthy diet)? Or, will people continue to order what they normally would, knowingly ingesting possibly thousands of calories or a day’s worth of calories in a sitting?
I’m personally split on this one. As a registered nurse and healthy eating guru, I believe having the information available to make an informed decision is important for consumers. And, as an “early adopter” of calorie counts, so to speak – having had this information on all of our HEALTHY meals since day one – more than 30 years ago, I feel it’s about time the rest of the world caught up! However, I am not certain posting calorie counts will help the obesity numbers completely. It may help somewhat and slow the upward trend we’ve seen the last few decades, but it is not the magic bullet answer as some will like you to believe. I also don’t think it will dissuade some people from overindulging if they want to do so. I realize my product is much different than the likes of fast food -- so the comparison is more like apples to oranges rather than a direct comparison. But, having this information for people is important so they can make a better, more informed decision and is a good step in the right direction to helping the public health in this country.