A Change is Gonna Come

As part of Barry O’s health care reform bill passed last year, chain restaurants will soon be required to post in-store calorie counts for all non-alcoholic items on their menu – a step in the right direction, in my opinion.Chain Restaurant

This should, hopefully, push the big chains into some offering up some healthier options.  I mean, it’s going to be a bit of a turn-off if you glance down the menu and all the dishes are pushing 1,000 calories.  Restaurants are going to want some low numbers mixed in, and that’s a good thing for anyone who’s interested in the occasional meal that’s not drenched in butter and grease.

Similar laws are already enforced in certain states, but this proposed legislation would make the labeling law nation-wide.

There’s a few exceptions to the proposed rules – alcoholic beverages are exempt and restaurants with less than 20 locations aren’t required to do anything.  It’s okay, though, baby steps are better than no steps.

There’s also some grey area on what constitutes a “restaurant.”  It appears that the decision will be based on whether or not food sales are the primary reason for business.

Convenience stores and grocery stores are in, movies theaters and bowling alleys are out.  Lightbulb-baked 7-Eleven taquitos are in, large popcorn in the limited-edition Harry Potter bag is out.

7-Eleven Taquito

7-Eleven Taquito | Photo from BiggestMenu.com

This article elaborates on the issue more, and points out that a large popcorn and large soda from a movie theater, aside from costing you more than the movie itself, is likely to run over 2,000 calories – more than the FDA suggests an adult should consume in an entire day.

But let’s be honest, the kind of people who order a large popcorn and soda for themselves probably aren’t the same people who care about calorie intake.  And that’s not meant as a slight to anyone, but a person without a TV probably doesn’t care what’s going on with American Idol.

Menu Board

Posted calories on a menu in New York | Photo from Cleveland.com

Personally, posted calorie counts probably won’t change what I order, but it will satisfy some curiosities and provide fodder for debate.  Knowledge is power, as they say, and this is no different.

On a somewhat unrelated side note, most have probably heard that Subway recently passed McDonald’s in total number of restaurants (despite still being well behind in overall sales).  But did you know that there are more 7-Elevens in the world than either Subway or McD’s, and by quite a margin?  That’s a lot of taquitos.


9 responses to “A Change is Gonna Come

  • Ron

    Places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Cracker Barrel will see fewer customers once they realize just how many calories are packed on those entrees to make them so damn tasty.

  • Rachel

    just to throw in my two-sense (cents?), the biscuits are 150 cal (8 g fat) each. good taste doesn’t have a calorie counter, though. fact or fiction: i learned in class that nutrition labels can be up to 6% off on their nutrition ‘facts’ and restaurants and the like can be off on their estimates by up to 20%!?! that’s a pretty big margin of error. i’d like to see some of that research.

  • beerforgirls

    Wow, that taquito looks mighty appetizing (joke).
    This was really interesting…someone should do a research on average weight loss in America after a year of having calorie counts on menus.

  • plainjane

    I know when I first saw calorie counts on a menu it completely killed my appetite and I felt guilty eating anything at all. If the average adult should have 2,000 calories a day or less, with 1,200 as the minimum, it is pretty sickening to see that something you like is 1,400 calories for the single meal. What’s also horrifying is finding out that the fruity soda-water drink you ordered the night before was 400 calories because the restaurant adds a cup of sugar to it.

  • aflaten

    I’m less concerned with how many calories a person would take in from that taquito, and more concerned with how many people that taquito has taken in.

    Seriously. It’s like some sort of cholesterol-laden black hole.

  • What Would Wu Eat?

    This is a topic/issue that I think a lot about and I always get stuck on what’s the best solution to encourage people to eat healthy. Often times it’s a economic issue, but how can we make healthy food accessible and affordable to communities overpopulated with fast food chains on every block? Thank you for your insight and raising more awareness on this issue.

    • healthyandlazy

      You’re right – it’s hard to find a ‘best solution’ to the problem. Personally, I think the first step is transparency (more accurate labeling of packaged foods, calorie counts at restaurants). The big solution is probably a restructuring of the whole government-agriculture relationship in which corn and sugar are over-subsidized and tomatoes and broccoli (and other veggies) aren’t. It seems a little absurd that a highly-processed, high fructose corn syrup-laden candy bar is cheaper than an apple, but that’s where we’re at currently.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts!

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