Does Calorie Posting on Menus Reduce Calorie Intake?
McDonald’s recently announced that they would post calorie content of their foods on their menu boards. The so called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), un-fondly known as Obamacare, mandates that chain restaurants with 20 or more locations post calorie content on their menus. That mandate takes effect in 2013.
So how about it?
Does calorie posting on menus reduce calorie intake?
A study in 2006 indicated that calorie labeling would be either misunderstood or unused.
A recent critical analysis of published studies on fast food restaurants concluded that the data do not show reduced calorie intake from calorie posting on menus.
Two recent randomized trials were too brief and not real world. One of these was performed by a vocal proponent of government intervention and showed positive results. The other study showed no benefit.
In 2008, New York City required posting of calorie content on menus for all restaurant chains with locations in the city. The only study since then to determine the effectiveness of this regulation showed no impact on calorie intake.
In fact, posting calories on menus in fast food restaurants may actually do more harm than good. Some financially strapped customers may choose the most calories for their dollar. Others may be more anxious and conflicted seeing the calorie content of their food.
Assorted online responses to the McDonald’s announcement were really worth reading.
So, like most government mandates, this one does not have the science or data to support it.
Those persons ready and motivated to lose weight or those trying to control their weight can choose smaller portions and lower calorie items.
All others are likely to say like one online responder: “just leave us alone”.
What do you think? Are you surprised by these findings?
Share your thoughts and comments.
Dan Weiss MD CDE FAPC PNS CPI