To Tell or Not To Tell

   By drodriguez  Dec 04, 2007

With obesity now a mainstream epidemic in the U.S., health officials are constantly trying to think of new ways to help. A recent segment on 60 minutes discussed the push to force some fast food restaurants to go public and post calorie numbers in plain view on the menu boards.

It’s not a surprise that the restaurant industry is very much against the idea of coming clean with the numbers. The fear is that customers will be shocked by the high calorie offerings and never eat out again.

A big reason health officials believe the obesity rate in our country is so high is because Americans eat out now more than ever before. When people buy food at grocery stores and prepare meals at home they have the nutrition label right there on the package. The information offered on nutrition labels allows the consumer to be mindful of what they are feeding themselves and their family.

Nutrition and marketing professor Brian Wansink believes that people tend to make the biggest mistakes when they think they are eating healthy. He pointed out during the 60 Minutes segment that many people think a tuna salad would be the healthy choice (probably because of the word ‘salad’), when in actuality the tuna salad may contain many more calories than something like a roast beef sandwich.

Professor Wansink also stated, “When people are eating in a restaurant they think is healthy, people grossly underestimate how much they eat by about 50 percent.” The idea is that if nutritional information was more widely available at restaurants, people who were making an effort to eat healthy would have some help and people who were living unhealthy lifestyles may be more motivated to cut some calories out of their diet.

Click here to watch the 60minute video - it's interesting!

What do you think of instating regulations on fast food restaurants that would force them to include calories on the menu boards?

Is this something you and your family would want to know before you make a food purchase?

Comment below or click here to join a a discussion forum on this topic.

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KsFoodie by KsFoodie | Wichita, KS
Jan 15, 2009

Nutritional information needs to be available so the public can make informed choices. A good deal of the food served in restaurants is factory packaged and finished on site. This is how all your chain restaurants are able to maintain uniformity. The nutri information is already on these products and they can easily pass this on to us. However, all this information will do no good if people don't understand the basics of nutrition. I agree that nutrition and cooking are life skills that need to be taught in schools.

linzsnoop by linzsnoop | CROTON HDSN, NY
Feb 23, 2008

i think it is good to have the information accessible. if a person is not interested, then they do not have to look. It will have positive results for the consumer, as we will feel more in control of our choices when entering restaurants. knowledge is power.

kartogis by kartogis | SAINT LOUIS, MO
Jan 26, 2008

i, personally, would like to know what kind of lard is being used to prepare my food. i dont want any trans fats. i want to know what kind of oil was used to fry my chicken and french fries. i want to know if i can substitute soy for regular milk and not have to pay extra.

i'm so glad the law about trans fat disclosure got passed in NYC.

lady_greenbriar by lady_greenbriar | WHITEFISH BAY, WI
Jan 15, 2008

I do not have issues with Fast Food resturants providing nutritional information on the products they offer. Most Fast Food restaurants now offer that information should you choose to read it. I **do not** feel this should be government mandated nor regulated. Enough money is already spent on failing projects. I think the fact that most fast food menus offer "healthy choices" is enough proof that they are listening to their consumers. If you do not want to eat crap food then you do not need to frequent said establishments. Everything in moderation is a motto I live my life by. If I were eating at a restaurant like McDonald's everyday I would expect to weigh 300lbs. As it is, I do eat fast food every once in a while. Not as the norm, but on the fly it really does save time. I consider myself average weight and feel good about myself.

I am tired of finger pointing. If only restaurants would post nutritional information then Americans wouldn't be fat. Where does the blame lie... I think the finger needs to stop waving wildly about like a leaf in the wind and come to rest on no one but ourselves. Do schools teach children how to cook? Do they teach proper nutrition? Last time I checked schools were having McDonald's brought in a "hot lunch". If our children are getting that in school, and we're not doing anything about it to stop it. We have no right to point fingers elsewhere.

sitty by sitty | Fredonia, NY
Jan 12, 2008

I agree with Catlady6. I resent paying (through my taxes)for healthcare (and programs) for individuals who won't take care of themselves. That goes for smokers, overeaters and drinkers. Individuals need to take responsibility for their OWN ACTIONS!

chickb13 by chickb13 | Hutchinson, KS
Jan 10, 2008

I think adding nutritional information in plain sight is a good idea. I would think more people who are interested in the nutritonal side would make healthier choices and the people who aren't wouldn't care.

brendaunderthesun by brendaunderthesun | Fishers, IN
Dec 31, 2007

We have a right, at the point we make our buying decisions, to know about what we are purchasing. We should not have to 'look it up ahead of time' on their website. In my view, a standardized nutrional/ingredients information should be posted...just like we see when we buy a frozen or canned products.

In light of what we'll learn (and thus, perhaps change some of our buying decisions) could be costly to restaurants (time to get data, print it on menus, reformulate dishes they think will not be accepted, etc.).

However, just like products we buy in the grocery...some people will continue to buy 'unhealthy' products even though the information on transfat, calories, etc. is available. And in our free society, that is what should happen...different products are available and different people buy for different reasons.

I would not endorse any government health care system. It flat doesn't work--look at countries that implemented and look at how we in the US do implementing new programs. That is a whole other issue...

The bottom line is, we have a right to see this information on the menu and big business will not promote it for the expense on their own...unless we continue to push them with the importance to us. Its kind of like adding "trans fat" to labels, or going from full smoking restaurants to non-smoking restaurants ... evolution will come but we need to continue to make it a priority (write to your favorite chains, ask about it to the manager when the restaurant is not busy, write to your congressmen, etc.).

ncarlson by ncarlson | WICHITA, KS
Dec 31, 2007

The first mther that sued McD for making her child fat claimed she did not know that McD was unhealthy for you. Who does not know eating fries on a daily bases is not good for your health. This same mother proved her child with money each day to walk to McD and purchase food. Posting nutritional information might help some people make better decisions, but you are assuming that the general public knows what these numbers mean and how to incorporate it into thier daily recommended intake. If you are trying to reduce obesity then you should require the health care system & gov to educate us on diet & exercise.

RockieB by RockieB | Baton Rouge, LA
Dec 28, 2007

It wouldn't hurt for people to know what they are putting into their bodies. It would only make the companies work harder to produce healthier foods. I eat what I want, but once I saw McD's and BK revealing their nutritional keys, I made healthier choices and limited visits.

elribas by elribas | Pittsford, NY
Dec 28, 2007

I definitely think twice before ordering if I know there is something healthy on the menu. Kudos to chains like Applebees where my kids can get what they want and I can order from the Weight Watchers menu. Something for everyone!

mclanek by mclanek | San Diego, CA
Dec 26, 2007

Yes, I think that nutritional information should be provided. Sometimes it effects my food decision and other times it does not but I think I have a right to know. But I'm not naive enough to believe that doing so is going to banish obesity.

judywald by judywald | Elmira, NY
Dec 24, 2007

I really like when restaurants post accurate nutritional information. Sometimes, I think they don't want to make the values easily accessible or public because they feel that it will be bad for business. That isn't fair to those of us who want to order smartly...we know and expect that some foods will be high in fat and calories, and we are not going to stop going to an establishment solely because they provide us with information.

Knowing how many calories are in a sandwich allows me to make a decent choice without just going straight to the salads. At this point, I only choose fast food and chain restaurants who have calories on their menus, websites, or in a chart where you order your food. I think it's a good tool for the concerned consumer...

sjgaines99 by sjgaines99 | Dalhart, TX
Dec 13, 2007

Wow, everyone definitely has their own opinion on this subject! I try very hard to make good, nutritional decisions for myself and our three children. But even I was a little shocked at the calorie and fat content of menu items when McDonald's started putting that information on food items. I think the general public would be shocked at the amount of fat in any restaurant food. There is a reason restuarant food tastes better than what you make at home. FAT! Would it change how and what people eat if every restaurant was required to post nutritional information? Yes, maybe some would change. But I think the majority would not.

amyarrowsmith by amyarrowsmith | CRANBERRY TWP, PA
Dec 13, 2007

If fast food restaurants are forced to post calorie counts, every place one could buy food should, as well. However, I completely agree with the very few comments stated earlier, that people will continue to consume fast-food even when the calories are posted on menus. We all know that fast food is unhealthy and fattening. People eat it because it's convenient, not because it's healthy.

Minime777 by Minime777 | UPLAND, CA
Dec 13, 2007

I think they should. I doubt, thought, that people will stay away even if they found out the calories that come with the food. Fast food became a lifestyle that is very hard to change...