Calorie Postings on Restaurant Menus

Last week the FDA released a statement saying that the deadline mandating restaurants to post their nutrition information will be extended until December 1st of 2016. This was suppose to be done by December of this year. All restaurants that sell food and have 20 or more locations will be required to post the calorie content of the food that are on their menus, menu boards an displays. 

Things to be on the look out for in December of 2016 - 

  1. Calories will be posted on the menu. Salt, Sugar and Fat values will be available on request. 
  2. Alcohol is also included. If a restaurant serves food and alcoholic drinks those calories will be listed on the menu. Any drink from the bar, will not require calorie information to be posted. 
  3. Calorie information will be posted on prepared foods like salad bars, hot food bars and convenience stores. These food items would be consider able to feed one person. Any food item that is purchased in bulk like a loaf of bread or rotisserie chicken will not be required to have calories posted. 

So is this even helpful? That is the million dollar question. There was research done back in 2008 with Starbucks in New York City and this showed that when calorie information is posted it led to a 6% reduction in calories per transaction. This applied only to food, beverages were not affected. People were purchasing food at Starbucks were buying less food and then choosing lower calorie items. 

I think this is important to note that posting calorie information on beverages didn't create a healthier change. I think that is an important thing to remember that people like their delicious beverages and not everyone will be dissuaded by the calorie number that's posted. 

The take home message - Keep an eye out for posted calorie information. Panera and Starbucks are two locations that have this information on their menu boards. Take a look at the calories and see if that food item is worth the calorie content. These calorie counts are only helpful if you take the time to use the posted information to make a healthier choice.