Have you looked at a menu lately and wondered, “What all those numbers next to the price!?”
Those are the calories, my dear.
For the past few years, The Food and Drug Administration has been creating legislation requiring chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus.
knowing how many calories are in that Chik-fil-a or Subway sandwich is great; but does knowing calorie counts change the way we order and eat?
The scientists have studied the trend and the results are mixed.
Here’s a quote from National Public Radio on how posting calorie counts has helped:
Sara Bleich, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that numerous studies have looked at the effectiveness of calorie labeling on menus in cities like New York, where such information is already required.
“In general, the studies show when you put calories on menu boards, only about 30 percent of consumers notice them,” she says.
From: “Want A Calorie Count With That? FDA Issues New Rules For Restaurants“, NPR, 2014/11/24
The story went on to describe how a young lady that was a big fan of sweet coffee drinks and Rice Kripsies treats at Starbucks changed her ways after learning how packed with calories her go-to picks were.
“30 percent of customers notice them”. That’s great!
But do they use that information to make better choices?
Here’s a quote from SHAPE magazine that says “no”:
One New York University School of Medicine study conducted in 2011 of adult-accompanied children and teens of four chain restaurants in low-income neighborhoods found that, although customers took note of the calories listed on the menu, their receipts indicated that they bought no fewer calories at the register.
The researchers evaluated New York City patrons before and after calorie counts were made mandatory and then looked at a comparison group in Newark, N.J., where no such law went into effect. Half of the teens took note of the calories, but continued to purchase an average 725 per register trip. Further, 25 percent of parents who were buying children’s meals noted the calories, but continued to purchase about 600 calories at a time for their youngsters.
From: “Do Calorie Counts on Fast Food Menus Really Work?”, SHAPE, 2012/09/18
Thanks to the government, we’re being enabled to make better choices about the way we order when we eat out. But in the end, the decision is still up to us to make the right choice.
The next time you’re faced with options at a fast food counter, will you use the calorie counts displayed to make better choices? Have you already made changes? Let us know in the comments!
While you’re pondering your next order, check out this Fast Food Calorie Quiz from BuzzFeed.