Marketing, Motherhood, and Mayhem

Counting Calories

April 6th, 2011 by Deb McLean

Did you know that the rate of obesity has more than doubled over the last 40 years?  In 1971, an estimated 14.5% of adults in the U.S. were obese, compared with about 35% in 2008.  Our nation has an epidemic of obesity. 

I try to watch my calorie intake, so I think FDA has a good idea proposing rules that would require some restaurant and fast-food chains to post the calorie content of standard items on their menus.

The rules, which are subject to another round of public comment before they take final form, would also apply to vending machines, coffee shops and convenience and grocery stores. But they would not apply to movie theaters, bowling alleys or airlines.

California already has a law requiring chain restaurants to display calorie counts that has been in effect since January, but many counties — including Los Angeles — have put off enforcing the regulation until the release of the federal guidelines.  Some fast-food chains in the state, including McDonald’s, have already begun displaying calorie counts on posted menus in some locations.  The proposed FDA rules would apply to food-selling chains with 20 or more locations nationwide.

Overall, the rule would generally apply to businesses that either define themselves as restaurants or devote more than 50% of their floor area to the sale of food.

An FDA spokesman said the agency hoped that consumers would be able to compare calorie counts by the end of the year.

Calorie counts would have to be displayed prominently on all menus and menu boards, including at drive-through locations and next to self-service foods, such as items in a salad bar.

“Nobody thinks that calorie information by itself solves the problem, but it’s part of the tool kit,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, said in an interview. “We see this as part of the overall effort to fight obesity.”

Obesity is a major problem in our country and we need to address it on multiple levels including education, food marketing, labeling, tax subsidies and farm programs.  We must talk to our children every day about making good choices.

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