Calorie counts on menus helpful in making choices
There is increasing concern among health authorities about the growing number of Americans who are overweight.
A report last week predicted a big increase in obesity in America by the year 2030, and another report linked sugary drinks to childhood obesity.
Perhaps inevitably there will be outcries for some form of government regulation – like the soda size limit New York City recently implemented – to address the health “epidemic,” just as occurred with smoking.
We hope that is not the path chosen because there is a better one – and that is through education efforts, increased knowledge of food choices and individual initiative.
An example of this alternative option comes from a growing number of restaurants that are deciding to offer healthy food choices (not mandates) on their menus. Some are even including calorie counts for their food items so diners can judge for themselves what is best for them to eat.
A turning point may have come when the McDonald's fast food chain recently added calorie counts to its menus and drive-through displays. McDonald's has been a target of criticism, particularly when it comes to children, for contributing to the problem. Other restaurants are likely to voluntarily follow.
The popular restaurant chain has, for a number of years, been offering healthier choices. But parents and others have not necessarily picked those choices. But that is not the company's fault.
The calorie counts are not going to be some magic solution either. It is the individual who decides what to eat. And in the case of children, it is the parents who have the responsibility to help them make good choices and to educate them on life decisions.
Government mandates - as some advocate - are no magic solution either. For example, in New York there is a size limit on drinks but not on how many you can order. And, of course, people do what they want at home.
People want an easy solution, but they won't find one. Calorie counts on menus, however, may help them make better choices.