I used to get a Dunkin' Donuts muffin everyday with my coffee, thinking muffins were a healthier alternative to bagels. When I was in NYC 2 years ago I saw the calorie postings at the DD in Penn Station. I was flabbergasted at the calories on those muffins, and I haven't had one since! so yes, I think the posting will help.
Last night on Kitchen Nightmares Chef Ramsay asked the contestants to come up with a three course meal of 700 calories. They were able to do it after about 20 minutes of trial and error. It can be done.
Probably not. Maintaining a healthy weight is the result of good habits carried out through every aspect of one's life. People aren't getting all their calories at restaurants and restaurants aren't forcing folks to sit on their a**es all day long.
Last year, I judged a restaurant business plan competition at Cornell and learned that many of the the young (20 something) future restaurateurs were interested in finding a way to translate healthful eating into profitable dining concepts. As with many aspects of our lives, I believe that consumer demand, not government pressure will be the greatest influence on restaurant eating habits in the future.
Consumer groups have been pushing menu labeling legislation for years, and have finally gotten traction in certain cities and state, with the potential to impose a great financial burden on a strapped industry. I believe the current and proposed legislation in this area is little more than nanny government as usual (with California leading the way -- surprise). Fortunately -- for smaller operators, at least -- most of the state and proposed federal restaurant nutritional disclosure legislation targets the medium to large chains (20 or more units under the same trade name), which can afford to analyze their menus.
The MEAL Act and the LEAN Act, two competing federal menu labeling bills differ significantly in how they would address the issue. You might check out the October 2009 issue of Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine. Fellow hospitality industry attorney David Denney (we're the ones on your side -- I think) has authored a pretty decent primer on the current legal environment in this area. (Is this considered spamming?) Anyway, you might find it interesting and informative.
Just got this article and it shows that the consumers are beginning to notice.
Calorie Count Study Gives Diners Pause
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
People who used the calorie information available at fast-food chain restaurants in New York City bought 106 fewer calories’ worth of food at lunch than those who didn’t see or use the information, a study shows.
Researchers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene set out to analyze the impact of the city’s menu labeling law, which went into effect in March 2008 and required chain restaurants to post calories on menu boards.
The researchers surveyed more than 10,000 diners at 275 locations of the top fast-food and coffee-chain restaurants in the spring of 2007, and then more than 12,000 people again this spring. Customers disclosed their register receipts and completed brief questionnaires.
Among the findings reported here Monday at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society, a group of weight-loss researchers and professionals:
•15% of customers say they used the calorie information at lunch; 56% say they saw it.
•Those who used the information purchased an average of 754 calories’ worth of food at lunch in 2009; those who didn’t see or use the information bought 860 calories’ worth of food.
•Those who saw and used the information consumed 152 fewer calories at hamburger chains and 73 fewer calories at sandwich chains compared with everyone else.
•At coffee shops, total calories purchased dropped from 260 in 2007 to 237 calories in 2009.
•The overall calories purchased decreased at nine chains between 2007 and 2009, including dropping significantly at McDonald’s, Au Bon Pain, KFC and Starbucks.
•The calories from foods purchased at Subway increased significantly, possibly because diners were purchasing a special deal on 12-inch sandwiches.
“A growing number of consumers are using this information and making lower-calorie purchases,” says Lynn Silver, assistant commissioner of NYC’s Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control. “We know that behavior changes take time. We hope consumers increasingly use this information to make healthier choices and that companies will offer more healthful choices and more appropriate portion sizes.”
The research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and New York City.
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