by Marion Nestle
Sep 12 2011

Calorie labeling in action: baseball!

I went to Mets v. Cubs at Citifield last night (Cubs 10, Mets 6, 11 innings).  While everyone else was engrossed in the game, I was distracted by the vendors.

They wore calorie label buttons!

I managed to get one.

Is anyone evaluating this public health education method?

Whether it does any good or not, I wish I could have gotten the button for peanuts: 960 calories!

 

Comments

  • JMT
  • September 12, 2011
  • 2:11 pm

Evaluate such a fun intervention? Who needs it?!

(I actually have no idea if they have or not! I’ve just been peevy lately about how ‘obvious’ interventions often go un(der)evaluated because of course they work. mHealth sees this constantly.)

  • KD
  • September 12, 2011
  • 2:48 pm

I was under the impression that posting calorie counts on menu boards in NYC affected consumer awareness but did NOT result in significant behavior changes. I can’t imagine that this would be different.

My concern is that calorie counts oversimplify nutrition. A low calorie Italian Ice is not necessarily healthy. High calorie roasted peanuts are not necessarily unhealthy– especially if you don’t consume the massive portion that is typically served at ball games.

Food is much more than calories. To reduce disordered eating and obesity, we need to communicate this message more effectively.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20966367

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18556597

  • KD
  • September 12, 2011
  • 2:52 pm

another interesting take on calorie counts:

http://www.ajcn.org/content/93/4/679.long

I love the calorie labeling requirements. I think some people will re-evaluate what they order. In fact, my husband told me he revised his order when he was at a La Salsa restaurant in Calif this summer due to the posted calorie counts. I wish they would also post sodium counts!

  • MargaretRC
  • September 12, 2011
  • 8:53 pm

The problem with calorie labeling is that it can lead one to the wrong choice. Italian ice may have only 130 calories, but it is 130 calories of sugar! I don’t care if peanuts are 960 calories (for how much, by the way? I doubt if most people could sit and eat 960 calories of peanuts at a sitting!) I know I’d be better off with the peanuts than the Italian ice, so I would choose them. Because it really isn’t about calories, it’s about quality food. When I look at a menu board or whatever, I do NOT make my choices based on calories, because I know that if I choose the right foods (the less sugar and starchy carbs the better) my body will regulate the
calories on it’s own–just as it is designed to and just as every other animal does. Posting calories will become irrelevant if/when when people in this country relearn what to eat. I recommend the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis to learn what NOT to eat.

  • Anthro
  • September 13, 2011
  • 7:02 am

@Margaret

While I completely agree that choosing nutritious food should be Choice #1, calories DO count. I sincerely hope that you will be reading Marion’s new book when it comes out!

I was wondering about the quantity of peanuts as well. Faced with the choice of Italian Ice or 950 calories for a snack, I’d get a bottled water and eat when I get home. Part of the problem is that people have become accustomed to the idea of eating something being associated with any event they attend.

I love this idea! We are all quick to over-indulge at sporting events. I know this will help keep me in check!

I completely agree with Margaret and Anthro. the TYPES of foods we choose are also very important, but at the very least this is a great start to get consumers to be more conscious of their food choices.

  • Gina
  • September 13, 2011
  • 12:08 pm

If the peanuts are 950 calories you can bet they will frame it as *300 calories (*per serving). Calorie information can be a great tool/guide for consumers, but only if it is used correctly!

  • fredt
  • September 13, 2011
  • 1:08 pm

960 calories of peanuts
Peanuts have a caloric density of 5.6, therefore 171 grams of peanuts.
In Super Store (Canada) bulk foods, $0.52/ 100 gms, 89 cents.

Subsidize those peanut farmers. Cheep peanuts keep the patrons happy, peaceful and fat with high insulin via Omega 6 amplification and a bit of glucose, and well chelated with the lectins and phytates, so they do not absorb all those minerals.

I LOVE this! Calorie labeling is “da bomb” (just waiting to go off when customers really look at the posted calories).
Here in California at In’N’Out Burger ( a community favorite because their food is “real” – ) people who have been getting a burger and fries are now picking one or the other. The cashier herself- who clearly had not even looked at the menu board- gasped in shock when it was pointed out to her that the fries were 600 calories. “But… but..” she sputtered..”That’s a THIRD of the calories I’m supposed to eat in a whole day”! ….right. And rather awesome that she knew her recommended daily calories and tries to stick that amount.
At Chipotle’s, the big burritos are out- over 1450 calories!

Overall, calorie labeling is great. Anyone who ignores them is making an INFORMED CHOICE to gorge themselves. Can you spell G-L-U-T-T-O-N?

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