by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Calorie-labeling

May 7 2008

The benefits of menu labeling for preventing obesity?

The Los Angeles County Public Health Division has produced a “health impact assessment” of how nutrition information on menus might affect customers’ ordering practices. The authors say that if 10% of customers reduce their caloric intake from restaurant meals by 100 calories a day, they would avert nearly 40% of the weight gain expected among Los Angeles residents. This is all theoretical, of course, but the hypothesis is testable – and New York City is doing the experiment. The NYC calorie labeling project is very much in the works. The city is starting to issue citations to non-compliers, even though the whole thing is still in litigation.

Oops.  Note the comment from Christopher Jarosz, one of the authors of the study.  On this model, it’s 100 calories twice a week (sorry about that and thanks for sending).

Apr 30 2008

NYC Calorie labeling: update on legal situation

So the judge says the New York City Health Department’s calorie labeling requirement can go into effect right now, even while the appeals are still in progress.  Restaurants have until July 18 to comply; if they don’t, fines will kick in.   In the meantime, the legal wrangling continues. The next court date is scheduled for June 9. The Restaurant Association lawyers are keeping busy.  Will this saga never end?

Apr 27 2008

Calorie labeling: sneak preview

I live in a high-density fast food area of Manhattan and went out today to see how calorie labeling is coming along. Pretty well, I’d say, although not at McDonald’s. My local franchise must be waiting for the final court ruling. The delightful manager at Cold Stone handed me a calorie list and says the info will be up on menu boards as soon as the folks at headquarters in Arizona get to it. Brace yourself: the smallest serving is about 400 calories, and that’s before the extras. Calories are on the menu boards at Subway but they are for the 6-inch sandwiches. For just $2.00 you can upgrade to a 12-inch and double the calories. Chipotle is already posting calories, and why not? It lists ranges: a burrito is 420 to 918, and a burrito bowl is 130 to 628. Not helpful. But Cosi wins my prize for the biggest surprise. How about a tuna melt for 1012 calories or small, medium, and large blueberry-pomegranate fruit smoothies at 544, 725, and 1087, respectively?  Will anyone pay attention to this?  It’s going to be hard to tell, given that people are eating out less these days anyway, in this era of higher food costs.

Apr 25 2008

The NYC calorie labeling saga continues

It’s hard to believe that New York City’s attempt to get fast food places to post calorie information is back in court again, but the New York State Restaurant Association is not giving up on this one. The federal judge has delayed the rules again, this time until next Tuesday. In the meantime, Starbucks, Subway, and Chipotle, among others, are supposedly already posting calories. Are they? Go see.

Apr 16 2008

Judge rules in favor of NYC Calorie labeling

The New York City Health Department’s attempts to get calorie information on menu boards, have been strongly opposed by the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA). Today, the judge ruled in favor of the City. In his decision, the judge says he thinks calorie labeling is in the public interest and does not violate the First Amendment. I suppose the NYSRA will appeal this sensible decision, but in the meantime, here’s what chain restaurants have to do to comply. Let’s hope they do. I can’t wait to see whether this works.

And here’s the New York Times account on Friday, April 17, with the law scheduled to go into effect on Monday unless the judge grants the Restaurant Association’s appeal.

Mar 4 2008

Calorie Labeling Fallout: Critic Resigns

New York City’s calorie labeling proposal, ever mired in controversy (and still in the courts), has just produced its first casualty. David Allison, president-elect of The Obesity Society, has just announced that he is resigning his presidency. Members of the society, distressed that he worked as a paid expert for the State Restaurant Association while testifying in opposition to the ciry health department’s calorie labeling plan. Apparently, this was going too far even for a society that accepts one or two million a year from drug companies. Conflicts of interest galore!

Addition: Here’s what the New York Times says about all this.

Feb 19 2008

National Restaurant Association (NRA): calorie labeling

From the NRA website:

“The NRA does not support legislation or regulation which requires mandatory nutritional labeling on menus or menu boards. Restaurants should have flexibility and freedom in how they may choose to provide nutrition data to their customers. The National Restaurant Association opposes any proposal that includes a one-size-fits-all menu-labeling approach.”

The site links to a nifty map of state and local proposals, as well as to summaries of pending legislation on this and other issues that worry the NRA. This group should be worried. It is fighting its customers who care about health, which seems like an odd business strategy.

Feb 16 2008

Sponsored science: opinions on calorie labeling

Today’s New York Times has a juicy article in the business section about the differing opinions of obesity experts about New York City’s proposal to require certain restaurants to post calorie information on menu boards. The head of one obesity society, who is a frequent consultant to the food and restaurant industry, apparently thinks calorie labeling will backfire by “inadvertently encouraging patrons to consume lower-calorie foods that subsequently lead to greater total caloric intake because of poor satiating efficiency of the smaller calorie loads.” Coincidence?