My Progress!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I was reading today that Utah Congressman, Rep. Jim Matheson, introduced a bill yesterday called the LEAN act (short for Labeling Education and Nutrition). It would require that fast food chains and restaurants post calorie counts for the foods they sell on the menus we use to place our orders. I assume this would include drive through menus as well as in-restaurant menus. Apparently, it also allows them to disclose information upon request of the customer in a number of ways which could include an appendix at the back of the menu, by offering a supplemental menu, or by including an insert with the main menu. It also stipulates that all nutritional content be available for consumers upon request (but not required to be on the menu itself).

Honestly, I already thought there was a requirement for restaurants to have nutritional information available upon consumer request, but maybe not. I for one think it is a great idea. I know that once I sat down and started looking at the calories and fat in some of the meals I typically ordered at these restaurants, I was shocked. It prompted me to find healthier items on their menus that I could order in the future, which I’m guessing will have a direct impact on my weight loss efforts.

One thing I would hope this legislation might do is motivate various fast food chains and other restaurants to come up with healthier fare. I can’t help but think that many people would alter their choices if the calorie count for their meal was staring them in the face. If that happens, demand goes down for the unhealthy options and the powers that be have to come up with healthier meal plans providing more variety for those of us watching our waistline or just simply trying to live healthier.

One article I read actually had people griping about these requirements, complaining that they didn’t think Congress should be “butting in” on their choices and forcing the restaurants to make this information easily available. I’m sorry, but I don’t get this line of thought. It isn’t as if they are forbidding McDonald's from selling the Big Mac or forbidding the consumer from purchasing whatever they want, they are just making it easier for the consumer to make an informed decision about what they are consuming. In a time where childhood obesity and adult obesity is soaring, I think it’s definitely a good idea to help educate people about what they are eating. I just don’t understand the reasoning of a person who would rather keep their heads in the sand and embrace their ignorance.

What about you? How do you feel about this type of legislation? Too invasive or long overdue?

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wildfluffysheep said...

I think it should just happen. Information is key. I think it would actually shock some people knowing how little nutrition is in the food they're eating in restaurants and take out places.

Laryssa said...

We have that here in NYC, for places that have more than 2 restaurants (including fast food chains). It has made several places have healthier choices on their menus. But a local news channel did a study this past week and found that in some places, like Dunkin' Donuts, those "healthier" choices had incorrect calories listed, some with more than 100 calorie difference.

Truth be told, it hasn't deterred many people here in NYC from eating from the unhealthy menu, especially the younger generation. In a few of these places near where I work, they stopped carrying the healthy choices because they weren't selling - and there is a middle school across the street! It's sad, really.

Anonymous said...

I think it is long over due...most restaraunts here in Canada have the nutritional infor available but some do not, and are not required to. I don't eat at these places. If I can't look it up we choose to eat somewhere else. I very rarely eat fast food anymore. I like it, but it does not like me, and I know it's so bad for my health. I think everyone should be given the right to choose what there consuming. I'm all for it!!

MarieA said...

not sure legislation will make much difference unless the fast food chains intentionally hide the info because they know how detrimental it is.

We read labels in our house because my daughter had heart disease so sodium was the enemy Tracking sodium was an eye opener. If having nutrition info available helps put pressure on restaurants so they actually "change" what they put in their food ( seriously - 4 TBS of salt in a small little thingy of fries?) that would be worth the legislators efforts.
you go girl... you CAN do this!
Your heart needs you to do this.

Ria said...

I think it's entirely appropriate to require that nutritional information be posted or at least easily available. As you say, there is no prohibition on selling the food, so it's hard to see why people object.

Although I live in NYC, I don't eat fast food, so the main place I see the information posted is Starbucks. Knowing the calorie counts for each item makes it a LOT easier for me to either pass completely or make a choice of item/portion size that fits into my plan.