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.

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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

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