With obesity the problem it is in today's society, there are several schools of thought on how best to eliminate it. Ideas range from promoting exercise to banning certain foods. Somewhere in the middle lies the plan New York City's Board of Health passed unanimously this past October. All chain restaurants must now post calorie data on their menus.
Some chains, like Subway and McDonald's, are already open about their nutrition info. But many chains are not -- specifically the Olive Garden and Chipotle, whose menus don't necessarily have the reputation of being bad for you even when they are.
Yesterday, the first study measuring the effectiveness of New York's method was released and the results are staggering.
People's food habits are rapidly changing because of the order. Specifically, the survey by food consultants Technomic found that
"86 percent of New York City restaurant-goers were surprised by the
calorie count information... 90 percent of them claiming that the
calorie count was higher than expected. As a consequence, 82 percent
say that calorie disclosure is affecting what they order and 60 percent
say it is affecting where they visit."
In data-speak, those numbers are almost unheard of. Nine out of ten
jaded New Yorkers were surprised by the calorie numbers. If only
half of the survey's responders who said the calorie disclosures were affecting their orders were telling the truth, that would still be
more than 40 percent of New Yorkers. Even the most successful restaurants
can't survive 40 percent customer losses forever.
Already the first national calorie disclosure bill has been put before Congress
so it's only a matter of time before it becomes a national
The sooner the better. It may not take mandated exercise or taxes to curb obesity. Just knowledge.