Since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act required labels on restaurant food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working on establishing rules that require restaurants to list clear calorie information on their menus. Now, they are making some updates to many of the foods people eat on a daily basis. The rules also extend to things like movie theater popcorn, some alcoholic beverages and even vending machines.
In an interview with NBC News, FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg stated that the newly-released regulations don’t apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores. Nor does it apply to food trucks, ice cream trucks, food served on airplanes or other transport vehicles.
So, basically, the most noticeable places it will apply will be chain restaurants and grocery stores.
Will Anyone Care?
Here’s the thing. While I applaud the effort to make us all healthier, I have to wonder:
WHAT DIFFERENCE IS THIS GOING TO MAKE?? If I decide that I want pizza, or Five Guys, or extra cheese and sour cream on my Chipotle, a calorie warning sign isn’t going to stop me. Sure, it will make me feel guilty, since I do care about health and fitness, but that’s about it. That pizza is going in my belly.
And I won’t even get into the whole alcohol bit. Forget it.
Is it possible that the money being spent to create and enforce these rules might be better spent on things that will really have an impact? Perhaps local educational and fitness programs subsidized by the government? Some free workout classes at the local recreation center? Maybe free jump ropes for each household? Something!
Yes, Americans are outrageously obese, largely due to poor diet. But there are other factors involved as well that overrule even the poor diet, and one of those is LAZINESS. Because let’s face it, once I have decided to be greedy, knowing just how many calories are in my pizza will certainly not make me turn the delivery boy away. And that, of course, is if I even bother to read it.
I hope that the affected restaurants and facilities are creative enough to find ways to implement the rules in a way that will get Americans to really use them. Being the Queen of Bad Decisions myself, I can say that it is easier said than done.
Read more about the new FDA calorie listing regulations and who they will affect.
Note: the featured photo on this post is a modified version of this photo from Flickr Creative Commons.