From Marion Nestle:
The impossibly impenetrable health care bill that just passed the House has one little piece of good news buried in it: national calorie labeling.
The provision covers chains with 20 outlets throughout the country and is supposed to go into effect in a year or so. It also covers vending machines! These are great steps. Calorie labeling has two effects. It educates anyone who is interested to look and think about it. And it encourages chain restaurants to offer lower calorie options.
Eat a Big Mac (540), large fries (500), and large Coke (310), and you’ve ingested 1350 calories (source)–or more than half of what a moderately active adult male needs to maintain body weight. And you’ve taken in virtually no fruits and vegetables in the process.
Putting calorie info on menus is no doubt a solid idea–but let’s not oversell it as a panacea for stemming the rising tide of diet-realted maladies (not that anyone is). As Tom Laskawy and others have reported, research on the efficacy of calorie labels has shown modest at best results–and nor can the labels be relied on to be accurate.