So Far Menu Labeling Has Not Resulted in Slimmer Dining Out Habits!

I am not going to reverse my stand on Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (you may recognize it as Obamacare). I am also grateful that Senator Angus King is far-sighted enough to see the potential pitfalls of the bill and to speak up in the interest and on the behalf of his constituents. 

“…This mess of red tape might have a better case if calorie labeling was effective in combating obesity and raising general nutrition awareness, but multiple studies have found that this simply isn’t the case. A study of mostly low-income adults in Philadelphia, which recently enacted its own calorie labeling mandate, found that the regulation had no effect whatsoever on fast-food consumption, and that two-thirds of McDonald’s customers didn’t even notice the labels. The same research team, led by an NYU Medical School professor, found similar results in New York City. Now, the federal government expects different results nationwide.

The Philadelphia labeling experiment has not only proven ineffective, but burdensome for the city. An official from the city’s Department of Public Health recently admitted that, “we have not been able to enforce the law,” and the city has found that ensuring accurate calorie counts is both expensive and time-consuming for inspectors.

Had the architects of the ACA done their homework, they would have realized that mandated calorie labeling is an ineffective method of fighting obesity. Instead, the FDA will create an estimated $537 million in costs for a regulation that is doomed to fail from the outset. When these businesses pass compliance costs on to consumers, we’ll all pay the price for Washington’s inability to keep its hands off our lunches…”

excerpt from Obamacare’s Restaurant Calorie-Label Mandate Is A Complete Mess by Jason Stverak

It’s painfully obvious to me that calorie information has the potential to do more harm than good. We will pay more to eat out and we will have less variety.

I heard from many people who disagree with me both publicly through comments posted on my blog and privately through the contact form that sends comments directly into my email inbox. Some people were clearly angered by my denouncing the law.

I will be 100% behind anything that I believe will help Americans achieve and sustain a healthy weight.

I would like to see a renewed and nationwide effort to establish Maine Restaurant Association’s DIner’s Choice program. Selecting a meal when dining out should not be just a matter of “how many calories is in this meal?” but rather, “how can I have it my way?”

Cloud 9 restaurant at the Senator Inn in Augusta offers a luncheon buffet every weekday.  There is no calorie information, but most diners can make an accurate assessment of what has a lot of fat and calories.

Cloud 9 restaurant at the Senator Inn in Augusta offers a luncheon buffet every weekday. There is no calorie information, but most diners can make an accurate assessment of what has a lot of fat and calories.

Imagine if:
  1. Diners were empowered (instead of overwhelmed)
  2. Invited and encouraged to ask questions about ingredients and methods of preparation of the menu items.
  3. Servers were trained to make suggestions to reduce fat and calories when diners indicate they have dietary restrictions or health/weight-related goals.
  4. Restaurants cheerfully offered smaller portions.
  5. Packed part of a meal for “take out” before placing the dish in front of the diner.
Those 5 steps are just part of Diner’s Choice and they alone would effectively help Americans take charge of their health by actively taking steps to prevent chronic disease including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and of course, obesity.

 

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.