opinion

What editorial writers are saying about requiring restaurants to post calorie counts

As part of the health reform law, the nation's chain restaurants must post calorie counts for items on their menus and near drive-through windows.

Posted April 26, 2010.

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The requirement is meant to fight obesity by making consumers more aware of what they are eating. Any restaurant company with at least 20 outlets must comply. But will the measure have its intended effect?

A side of guilt, please

For those concerned about government intrusion, don't worry: You can still buy that burger, but you'll also get a small side of guilt to go with it. And we don't think that's such a bad idea. Americans should take more responsibility for their own health. A simple reminder of what they are getting for their money, posted prominently at the checkout, can't hurt. The New York City health department studied 12,000 customers of chain restaurants in 2008 and found that one in six used the calorie information and then bought lower-calorie items as a result. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 6

More information on the menu is a gain for consumers

Experts said it will take a few years for the industry and the federal Food and Drug Administration to come up with specific regulations, including how prominently the new data should be displayed. But nutritionists lauded the law as a good step for consumers who want to make more health-conscious choices, and they are right. Times-Picayune (New Orleans), March 26

On the menu: Calorie count

The upside is that in addition to supersizing our orders, we can truly understand that we are supersizing ourselves by doing so. Don't get us wrong. All the [fast] food outlets ... have received our business on past occasions, and we don't anticipate that seeing the calorie count will change our habits very much. (We can always close our eyes when we order.) Independent Mail (Anderson S.C.), March 26

New law requires calorie counts

There are others, here and elsewhere, who say that calorie count requirements will increase the cost of meals by requiring businesses to pay for new menus and signs, or that the rules put too much emphasis on calories alone, instead of overall nutrition. Other critics say government should stay out of the issue and leave it up to individual businesses to decide about labeling. That might be a good argument if it were not for the soaring rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension that make for America's most urgent health crisis. Tennessean (Nashville), April 1

Will calorie counts help?

If people always followed the recommendations of the government and health experts, smoking, drinking and overeating would have disappeared long ago. But as long as people exhibit typical human behavior and exert their free will to do as they please, regardless of the repercussions, then the government can mandate all the warnings they want to with minimal impact. Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times, April 2

"Full-disclosure menus" make us more informed

It's not a new idea. Nationwide, 16 cities and states -- including New York City and California -- have similar rules already in place. The rationale is fairly obvious: If people are aware of the exact calorie count in a chicken-strip-and-fries dinner, or if they know how many grams of fat they're getting from their morning muffin, they'll be more likely to consider healthier alternatives. Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.), April 6

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story