Calorie counts on menus - yea or nay?

Chili cheeseburger

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that a slight majority of Americans favored requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus. The results ranged from 52% to 56% approval depending on the type of restaurant in question. The larger numbers were for fast food restaurants at 56%, followed by 54% approving requirements for sit-down restaurants as well.

The poll was conducted just after a recent announcement by the FDA concerning new rules requiring "restaurants and other establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of food "clearly and conspicuously" on their menus, menu boards and display."

The theory behind the new rules is that if calorie counts, sugar and fat information were available on menus people would change their dietary habits. In a somewhat surprising finding, the poll found that approval was fairly consistent across political lines, with nearly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in favor. Women approved of the requirements more than men did.

Even though a majority of those polled were in favor of calorie counts being required, most Americans felt that they already had enough information to make informed choices, both at restaurants and at grocery stores. In stores, nutrition labels have been required since the 1990s, although some changes have been introduced since that time.

What do you think about requiring calorie counts or other nutritional information on restaurant menus? Will it change the way you eat?

Photo of Loaded chili cheeseburger from Food Network Magazine

5 Comments

  • dawnwaldron  on  1/4/2015 at 3:09 AM

    A red herring. It's carbs we need to count. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/health/low-carb-vs-low-fat-diet.html?referrer&_r=1

  • BlytheSpirit  on  1/4/2015 at 8:57 AM

    People are grown-ups. Let them figure out calorie counts on their own, and leave the restaurant owners alone. It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that if you are eating out, you are likely eating something high-calorie.

  • jalfood  on  1/4/2015 at 9:16 AM

    Let them figure out calorie counts on their own???? That's not possible unless you order the food and then take it to a lab! Or get the full ingredient list. That's the point of restaurants providing calorie counts. Yes, people are grown ups. They see if something has 300 calories or 3,000 calories. They are grown ups who make a decision as to which one they will eat.

  • Aggie92  on  1/4/2015 at 9:38 AM

    A few years ago I made the commitment to lose weight. The only way I could do it was to calorie count. It wasn't easy, especially when going out. So I would pick places that already had calorie counts on the menu (like Panera) or that had nutritional information easily accessible from my phone or the Lose It app. I now maintain my current weight by still watching what and how much I eat. I do splurge once in a while, but I don't want to get blindsided by ordering something that sounds healthy at a restaurant only to be served a vegetable side dish or grilled fish that are dripping in butter.

  • slimmer  on  1/11/2015 at 5:53 PM

    Calorie counts make a difference to me. There's an Au Bon Pain near my office that posts calorie counts on everything but the soups, which are self-serve. More than once, I have forgone what I considered just a little snack, after seeing that even a small pastry was 300 calories. I choose my sandwiches and salads by the posted calorie counts now.

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