Get Ready to Use Calorie Labeling on Menus
Mandatory calorie labeling of menu items at chain restaurants (with at least 20 locations) goes into effect nationally in May 2017, and you're likely seeing some of this labeling now. Unfortunately, new surveys conducted in Philadelphia, which already has mandatory menu labeling, suggests as little as 8 percent of fast-food eaters are using this information to help make healthier choices.
"Menu labeling can be confusing, with wide calorie ranges for any single item depending on what one does or does not include," says Beth Weitzman, PhD, a coauthor of the study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing and a professor of public health and policy at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. "People interested in making better food choices should use the calorie information as a guide, but they would also benefit from learning, more generally, about the calorie and nutrition content of specific ingredients and think about what items they might swap out to make their food purchases work better for them."
Weitzman suggests using online calorie and nutrition trackers to assist in this, such as <supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx>, but she acknowledges it takes time to learn how to use these and requires forethought before you place your order.
TO LEARN MORE: Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, In Press -