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Calorie counts on restaurant menus to fight obesity

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The calorie-posting law was recently signed by President Barack Obama as part of his ongoing health reform campaign and is due to come into effect in the coming year.

This new mandate will make all chain eateries with 20 or more sites obligated to post calorie counts on menus, menu boards and drive-thrus. The aim is to prevent as many people as possible from eating fatty foods simply by telling them how many calories they are actually taking in.

News Chief cites Mary Story, a nutritionist and obesity expert at the University of Minnesota: “Right now, when coffee drinks can range from 20 calories to 800 calories and even hamburgers can range from 250 calories to over 1,000, people have no idea what they’re eating.“

Story added, ” I try not to eat out. It’s just too easy to gain weight”.

However, ecouraging people to simply not eat out is not the new legislation’s aim. The bill came into effect in New York City two years previously and has reportedly marked some changes in consumer behaviour. According to the North West Indiana Times (NWI Times), Olivier Arizzi, brand marketing manager for New York restaurant and bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien, claims the initiative will lead to innovation in the catering industry.

Restaurant calorie-posting could prompt customers to order healthier food

“It forced us to innovate,” Arizzi said. “We would have had certain pastries that were very popular before, not being popular anymore because the calorie count would be so high.”

New York experts claim that the law has encouraged fast-food chains to offer more low-calorie options.

Cathy Nonas, who directs the New York City health department’s physical activity and nutrition programs, is said to have observed several such changes, according to NWI Times: Dunkin’ Donuts launched more lower-calorie foods, Starbucks switched to lower-fat milk, McDonald’s cut its serving size for large fries and KFC has started to grill its chicken.

So, the reform seems to have brought about positive changes in NYC. Can it do the same across the entire US? Only time will tell.

Images: Christian Cable and ebruli on Flikr

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