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Calorie Counts on Menus Are Now Mandatory

After decades of delays, it’s finally happening.

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Today, the Food and Drug Administration is finally implementing the policy that has been delayed multiple times, requiring restaurants, or any food outlet, with twenty locations or more to post calories counts.

Many bigger food chains have already been practicing this, such as Starbucks and Panera, but now, there is hope that this new policy will have a real effect on improving American nutrition.

In the last few years, people have been on the go more than ever before, which means more eating out and, inevitably, consuming more calories.

“Restaurant dishes at non-chain establishments across the country typically contained 1,200 calories — about half of the 2,000 or 2,500 calories recommended for moderately active women and men in an entire day,” Tufts University researchers found.

With this new policy, the hope is that it will help people become aware of how much they’re really eating, and maybe change eating habits.

However, the delays have been due to some food lobby groups that tried to fight the bill, arguing that they should only have to post the calorie count of a recommended serving size, not what someone will actually eat.

Some convenience stores and supermarkets claimed that, “while appropriate for restaurants, would be too expensive and burdensome for them,” the Chicago Tribune noted.

The Cochrane Review reported that, “There is still some controversy over if the policy will actually have positive effects of the overall health of America. The quality of the available evidence is low — leading to uncertainty about menu labeling’s effects — but also noted that studies carried out in real-world settings suggested labeling could reduce calorie intake by about fifty calories per meal (or eight percent of a six-hundred calorie meal).”

While the displayed information could potentially affect the view of individuals that are already calorie conscious, it isn’t expected to persuade those who aren’t into counting calories, meaning that the choice to change their diet won’t come immediately to most people.

The biggest impacts are expected “to have little to do with the one-off choices we make at the ordering counter: they could push food companies and restaurants to reformulate products so that they aren’t so hideously high in calories, and shift consumer attitudes about nutrition,” according to Vox.

 

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Gigi Foster is a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She's a midfielder on the women's soccer team and is studying ocean sciences.

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