Tucked inside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s 1,990-page health care reform bill that was unveiled Thursday is a requirement for chain restaurants to post caloric information on their menus.
Pages 1511-1519 of the bill outline the new laws for restaurants, mandating any restaurants operating in 20 or more locations post caloric information “prominently” on menus in a way that’s “designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the caloric information that is provided on the menu.”
That means all the big-name chains, like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s will need to post calorie counts next to their offerings, even on their drive-thru menus.
The government will also ensure that vending machines show calorie counts, as well. The bill says that anyone who operates 20 or more vending machines “shall provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.”
New York City already has a similar law on the books for their city’s restauruants that was enacted in July 2008 in hopes of encouraging people to limit their caloric intake while eating out and in turn, lowering obesity rates.
But research published this month by Health Affairs and conducted by a group of professors at New York University and Yale says otherwise. It found that people in New York typically purchased 825 calories before the menu labeling law went into effect and 846 calories after it became law.
“Thus, simply displaying information about the caloric value of various food options may fail to translate into attitudinal, motivational, or - most importantly - behavioral changes in line with choosing healthier food options,” the study said.