Menu-Labeling to Aid Weight Control

If you’re like many dieters, you probably enjoy going out to a restaurant but hate the uncertainty of not knowing how many calories you’re consuming. There’s the worry about underestimating your calories and using up more of your daily calorie budget, and if you’re vigilant about more than just calories, you might have no idea of how much fat or carbohydrates were in that delicious restaurant meal.

The federal government has responded to this concern with the new health reform bill passed in early 2010. It includes a requirement for restaurants with 20 or more locations to disclose how many calories each item on their menu contains and display that information on their menus or menu boards. Additionally, more detailed nutritional information will be provided on request.

This proposed initiative has the support of both houses of Congress and the endorsement of the National Restaurant Association, along with public health advocates nationwide, and it’s widely agreed that this move will improve health and cut costs on a national level. A study performed in Los Angeles estimated that California’s law, a similar version to the one that was passed on a federal level, could reduce annual community weight gain by 38% if only 10% of people eating at fast food restaurants reduced their meal by only 100 calories.

In 2011, chain restaurants may finally become easier on dieters and healthier for those who have no idea how many calories they’re consuming with every meal. While this won’t cure the epidemic of obesity affecting our country, it’s a step in the right direction.