Finally, the shame of eating a Big Mac, fries, 10-piece chicken nuggets, two holiday pies, and a large Coke in one sitting can be put into some sort of quantifiable number. If that’s not progress, than I don’t know what is!
As the haze of your food coma starts to dissipate, the only solace lies in the fact that you can’t quantifiably process the amount of food you stuffed your face with this Thanksgiving weekend. Well not anymore! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has you covered!
The FDA last week created new guidelines requiring eating establishments to clearly post calorie labels for their menu items. These new orders are much more stringent than the initial “hey man if it’s cool and not too much trouble” draft the Obama Administration published back in 2011. The most recent FDA initiative not only includes traditional eating establishments like fast-food chains and restaurants, but also movie theaters and coffee shops where food is also served.
These new reporting standards actually come from guidelines set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – aka Obamacare – specifically focusing on retail food establishments. While it’s still unclear what exactly qualifies as a “retail food establishment” – we know something like McDonalds would fall under this list, but what about mom-and-pop stores – the current assumption being that any chain that sells food or drinks would be included. After all, the initiative’s goals are pretty simple. Give people enough information when eating out so they can make healthier choices. The problem however is, that’s not always the case.
In a 2008 study, researchers found that while calorie information on menus increased the customers’ awareness of food items, it didn’t exactly change their eating habits. In fact, for most people – especially those in lower income brackets – their purchasing habits remained unchanged even after the caloric labels were introduced.
Honestly it’s hard to say exactly how this will play out in the long run. Whether people utilize the new caloric guidelines is honestly a crapshoot. Many studies have shown that people have no earthly idea how many calories are in everyday food items. So in that sense, more information is always a good thing.
(Photo Credits: Google Images, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)