Friday, June 13, 2008

Displaying Calories at Fast Food Chains

If you have been reading this blog, you know I am constantly thinking about ways to get my kids to eat healthier. It's not like I pour Kool-Aid down their throats or give them donuts. I just think they could eat better. Neither one of them is very fond of veggies and we do tend to eat out more than I would like.

The following ABC story looks at whether having the calories displayed on the big menu above the cash register at fast food chains will help parents make better choices. I tend to think it will. I think I have a basic knowledge of which menu items are worse than others, but a big reminder right in front of my face would probably sway my impulse decision to get greasy fries.

Knowing the calorie count in a side of fries may make you think twice about ordering it. Nationally, many cities are considering laws ordering restaurants to display the calorie information on their menus. And a new study shows the calorie counts could make a big difference in patrons' orders.

A McDonald's quarter pounder and large fries totals nearly 1000 calories -nearly half of the daily allowance. Both California and New York are considering State laws that would require calorie information be displayed on menus, and New York City implemented such a law in fast food restaurants last month. The restaurant industry has fought back, saying there is no proof that calorie counts would help patrons make healthy choices or reduce obesity levels.

But today a new study arms health workers with some strong evidence. A survey of more than 7,000 people finds that just 4 per cent of patrons noticed calorie information at chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut - where calorie information is not prominently displayed. However, 31 per cent of patrons at Subway chains, where calorie counts are visible right as you order, noticed the signs and they ordered food containing 52 fewer calories.

Researchers say fast food is so prevalent that reducing consumption by just 50 calories per person would make a big change nationwide.

This study is published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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Maria said...

Personally, I'd like calorie and fat content to be displayed together. We hardly ever eat fast food, but when we do, I'd like to avoid having to search for a nutrition chart (often in hiding) or ask for a leaflet. Yes, I am that person.

Jennifer said...

I would love for it to be posted too. I think everyone knows that an order of fries is fattening, but I think we tend to underestimate the amount of calories and fat in what seems like a "healthier" selection.

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