How Listing Calorie Counts Can Make You Fat(ter)
McDonald’s recently announced that they will be listing calorie counts of all food items on their menus. So now, when you order that Big Mac®, Fries, and a Coke® (don’t forget to super-size it), you’ll know exactly how many calories you are consuming, which is 1,360 calories. Some restaurants (such as Panera Bread) already do this. The question is, is it actually useful?
And like most general questions, the answer is a definite maybe!
I try to be a health conscious individual. We eat mostly at home, and mostly healthy food. Although, I must admit to certain difficulty with portion sizes (and desserts – my Achilles heel). I don’t eat at fast food restaurants, although my family occasionally will. When we do eat out, which is once or twice a week, it’s a treat. We eat at decent restaurants that have healthy food (as far as we know :-)). Having calorie counts on the menus won’t make much of a difference for me. Part of the reason for that is I’m a vegetarian, which usually narrows down my choices considerably.
I’m not your typical restaurant goer, except in rare cases, I don’t see that calorie counts will sway my decision on what I eat. But, what about the average person?
Will This Help Me?
I see this helping the person who is becoming aware of how their body is affected by what they eat. It will guide their decisions to choose lower calorie options … but, beware! Just because it’s low calorie, doesn’t guarantee it is healthy, or even good for you.
Will This Make Me Look Fat?
There is a group of people who will go to McDonald’s and when deciding between the Big Mac® and Angus Deluxe will say, “Aw heck, it’s only 200 calories difference,” and opt for the Angus Deluxe. They don’t realize that if they are eating an extra 200 calories per week, that equates to an extra 3 pounds per year. Multiply that by 5, 10, or 20 years, and you have an obese America.
There is no doubt that this will help a certain group of people. Those who are educated about nutrition. Most people won’t care, will be confused by the information, or will justify the additional calories by saying, “I’ve had a rough day and it’s only a couple more calories, why not!”
What we’re missing is context behind the numbers. What we need is more education on nutrition and how it affects our body, This education should come from our schools (at every level), churches, medical centers, grocery stores, even restaurants! But, alas it won’t. Unless we, the general public demand it. We need to educate ourselves. Take the time and learn where your food comes from, how it affects you, and what foods you need to have a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.