What’s new with calorie labeling?
For starters, calorie labeling in California is having a big effect – on the companies, if not customers. The chains are madly cutting down on calories. The most impressive example is a Macaroni Grill 1,270-calorie scallop-and-spinach salad (I can’t even imagine how they did this), which is now just a normal 390.
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a website devoted exclusively to calorie and other menu labeling initiatives where it tracks the legislation year by year and posts a handy map of what states and cities are doing on this issue.
And the latest issue of JAMA has a commentary by David Ludwig and Kelly Brownell about why it’s important to get calorie labeling in place even before we can get evidence for its effectiveness” For some of the most important public health problems today, society does not have the luxury to await scientific certainty…For restaurant calorie labeling regulation, there is a clear rationale for action.”
As to how well the system is working, try the Wall Street Journal’s take on the accuracy of the calorie counts. Sigh. Plenty of work left to do on this one. But worth doing, no?
July 24 update: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is keeping track of the research along with policy implications. The bottom line to date? Menu labeling is having some effects, but there’s more work to do.