Today’s special: Calories in menu

Will this make you thinner?

In July, New York City passed a regulation that required some chain restaurants to print information on how many calories its items carry in the menus and menu boards

The New York State Restaurant Association, a trade group representing 7,000 restaurants, soon filed an appeal against the regulation. A 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the rule is “a reasonable attempt to curb obesity,” according to the Associated Press report.
The trade group had argued that federal law gives restaurants discretion on whether to offer the nutritional information.

By Charles Yoo

Would you like to see the calorie info in the menus? What do you think?

33 comments Add your comment


February 24th, 2009
8:27 am

Yes! I would love to see calories, fat grams, carbs and everything else printed on menus. There are so many hidden calories in some of the food…even those that seem “healthy.” I know that home-cooking is best but with a full-time job, full time school and traveling every weekend it’s hard. I wish they would pass this law in Georgia too!

Lisa Stillman

February 24th, 2009
8:31 am

Of course! However, restaurants don’t want this because sales would go down. I work as a dietitian helping people lose weight. I always direct them to the website This is a website that has compiled nutrition information on almost 600 restaurants. People are always shocked by the calories in their choices.


February 24th, 2009
8:31 am

There are so many times I have wondered how many calories I was consuming at a meal in a restaurant. I would love to see this! Why hide the calories and fat and not put it on the menu? Even if they don’t put it on the menu, it should always be offered online.


February 24th, 2009
8:49 am

So much “touchy-feely” s–t here! “Ooohh, I want to see calories on my restaurant menu so I know how much I’m consuming” – bulls–t on that. Go to a restaurant, treat yourself to a good meal, and forget about stressing out for awhile. Next day – eat your granola bar and drink soy milk in the privacy of your home.


February 24th, 2009
8:54 am

I think its a ridiculous thing to require restaurants to do. Its not easy to calculate calories on complex dishes and is asking too much of the owners.

I do think that if a chain restaurant did this on their own, that it might improve sales, but don’t make it a law.


February 24th, 2009
8:54 am



February 24th, 2009
8:58 am

First of all let me say it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have the information avaiable, what is the height of foolishness is to believe passing a law to compel restaurants to do so will do anything more than create another bureaucracy, and another opportunity where people simply want to blame others for their problems and seek compensation. Operationally it would be nearly impossible for a real restaurant (not fast food) to do this accurately and consistently for food made to order. Lisa’s ref in the 831 post is a good idea, though I would like to know who monitors the accuracy of this site, I would bet that another unbiased source visiting the same restaurants would come up with many different results. The fact is government intervention nearly always worsens a situation, if this is a good idea, some restaurants will do it (some already do Seasons 54) and people will go there. Most people don’t look at the labels on grocery store items anyway (and half the people that say they do don’t really make a decision based on it they just make a mental note of which items they need to justify!)


February 24th, 2009
9:19 am

What right does the government have to do this??? If you want the info ask them for it. If they can’t give it to you GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. People need to take responsibility for themselves.


February 24th, 2009
9:43 am

I would love to see calorie info on restaurant menus, but the government should stay out of private business. Let the restaurants decide what they want to put on their menus. Places like Seasons 52 already put the information on the menu and is packed everytime I visit.


February 24th, 2009
10:16 am

I don’t think they should require it. People aren’t stupid. I know that my favorite meal at my favorite Italian restaurant is absolutely terrible for me. That’s why I don’t eat it too often. It’s called moderation!!! I would hope that some restaurants would consider putting the information up on their website for people to view if they choose, but I don’t think that should be required either.


February 24th, 2009
10:52 am

I think that this is a great idea. I look online before I eat at any fast food restaurant and was horrified to find that things like a Market Fresh sandwich from Arby’s is over 700 calories. How can people help themselves if they don’t know. I would love to see sit down restaurants offer calories online, but I don’t think it should be mandated. I would pick a restaurant that willingly offers calories over one that does not.


February 24th, 2009
10:52 am

“a reasonable attempt to curb obesity”
Fast Food Chains, Soft Drinks, Corn Syrup, etc have been around for decades if not longer, but it’s only NOW that we have an epidemic. For those of you at work today look around at your co workers and just watch how many times they snack on “healthy treats” or scarf down a 500 calorie latte. My cube mate is on her 2nd granola bar of the day and it’s not even lunch time and she doesn’t know why she is gaining weight (believes it’s a thyroid issue). It’s not restaurants who are causing obesity; we are “grazing” our way into an early grave.

Politically Correct

February 24th, 2009
10:53 am

Happy “weight-challenged” Tuesday, everybody! Laissez les bon temps rouler.


February 24th, 2009
11:04 am

For crying out loud. Do your homework, people! By definition, fast food (mostly) = unhealthy! At other establishements, caveat emptor. Nutrition info is on products in the grocery stores. The best way to know — apart from growing one’s own food — what’s in it? EAT AT HOME!


February 24th, 2009
11:14 am

I’m not usually for any government involvement in our lives but this is one thing I would like to see happen.


February 24th, 2009
11:15 am

Enter your comments here

Oh please!!!

February 24th, 2009
11:18 am

It would be a beneficial customer service tactic if restaurants were to publish the calorie-content of their various menu items, but don’t make it a law. (We have way too much regulation and govermental interference in our lives already!) Blame your obesity on yourself – not on the restaurants or anyone else. Take personal responsibility for your health – it doesn’t require a doctoral degree to figure out that a cheeseburger has way more calories than a salad.


February 24th, 2009
11:31 am

Lol, Kristin so true. After reading your post I did look around and everyone was snacking on something. It is funny how people will sit and eat all day and then blame gaining weight on thyroid problems and what not.

F&B Guy

February 24th, 2009
12:09 pm

Having the calorie and carb count on the menu would greatly help the people who have diseases affected by diet, most notably diabetes. Regulating this will be an incredible logistical NIGHTMARE. Our health department cannot even keep up with the inspections that are needed to monitor food safety in a restaurant, can you imagine how far behind they will be with monitoring the calorie content of a restaurant that changes its menu daily/weekly/monthly even seasonally?
Probably not a good thing to put into legislation….


February 24th, 2009
12:46 pm

CommonSenseRules, you would be surprised. You can eat a lot healthier at most fast food places than a sit down place. You can’t get the jumbo drink and the jumbo fries but a sandwich or wrap is frequently better for you than the chicken ceaser salad or pasta dish at a sit down place.


February 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

Heck no. Restaurants have a hard enough time becoming successful. This would only hurt the little guy, who doesn’t have the resources to do this. You would never have a “Special of the Day” if this came to pass. Try to educate yourself, first, and ask questions.


February 24th, 2009
1:09 pm

OH MAN….This is bad. Let food be food! Please don’t kill the enjoyable experience of a delicious meal by breaking everything on a menu into a list of nutritional statistics! Food is so much more than that. We’ve had this “data” on what every bit of what we eat is comprised of, and we are no healthier for it as a country. In my opinion, this is a completely ineffective and unappetizing initiative.


February 24th, 2009
1:10 pm

Yes, my sister in law and her kids go out to eat every single meal, every single day/night. She NEVER cooks, uses her stove as a laundry center. I think if she saw what was going into her body, and the kids’ bodies, she might think twice about going out to eat.


February 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

PLEASE HELP ME Government.The restaurants are making me fat! Make them quit ! Help me Barrack and Nancy ! Help !
Don’t let the free market decide to post calories if they want to. Protect me and make them do it. Do it for the children.


February 24th, 2009
1:40 pm

This is another example of over-legislation by our government. The law in NY applies to chains only (5 or more locations or something like that), so mom and pop’s and independant restaurants are not included.

The crazy thing is that is that chains are already required to have the nutritional information available in the restaurant. They have leaflets available with all the info. Requiring restaurents to post calorie info on their menu boards and menus is redundant – and costs the restaurants tons of money to do so. Who ultimately pays, we do!

It’s about personal resposibility. People know that a Whopper is not too good for them, but they eat them anyway. If you eat one every day, then your health will suffer. Every now and then though, it’s no big deal. Let’s think and make decisions for ourselves and keep the government out of it.


February 24th, 2009
2:14 pm

How rediculous. Once you start forcing them to print the nutritional stats then what’s next? Forcing the restaurants to have “healthy” options or a more healthly menu altogether. Going out to eat is a treat. If you don’t know ahead of time that it may not be low in calories you have your head in the sand. It is supposed to be an endulgence. Yikes, less government is always better.


February 24th, 2009
2:20 pm

Let me interject a little bit of fact into this debate so as to dispense with faulty, lofty intent. As a wholesale baker, I must maintain up to date nutritional information on all of my products. Any change in formulation requires the accompanying label change which requires intense scientific analysis to acquire that difficult to obtain information. There is quite a bit of science involved. This laboratory process is lengthy and on average $7000 to $10000 PER item analyzed. As a wholesaler, this price is figured as CODB. In my operation, there is volume so as to easier absorb this premium cost. In one or two location restaurants, there is not the same volume and business patterns can fluctuate wildly. Many of your favorite spots will not find it worthwhile to deal with such onerous regulation. For those remaining brave few, this will kill the ability to regularly rotate the menu and keep their customer base happy. It will be the unmitigated death of the creative chef culture. If you want to see the individual restaurant business dry up with the remaining few being prohibitively expensive for the middle class, go ahead and support this subdued socialism. This is just more nanny-statism run amock, all disguised for ‘the common good.’


February 24th, 2009
2:47 pm

I left Atlanta last Spring and moved to NYC (but thankfully am moving back in 16 days!)
Every coffee shop and restaurant has the calories posted and it’s definitely made me change my way of eating. However, what Jason said about how it’s only for chains is correct. I’ve only seen this at places like Starbucks, Applebees, McDonalds etc.
When you see that one entree is 1600 calories and one is 900, It really makes you think. The South is the fattest section of the country. We drive everywhere even if it’s down the street and we eat like crap. Maybe if the calories were posted, it would make people think twice about what they eat. I know people who eat out every single meal and maybe if they saw that they were eating double the calories they should, they would think twice about what they are eating.


February 24th, 2009
2:53 pm

Here is an idea for all the fat people. Stop eating bacon cheeseburgers and fries everyday. Try a salad and going on a walk, maybe even a brisk one. I think the states are having enough budget crises without you worry worts trying to cram more expensive regulation down everyone’s throats. As the baker stated earlier, this would knock a whole lot of independant restaurants out of business.


February 24th, 2009
3:04 pm

I don’t need the government to tell me what’s bad for me. I already know. I also know that if I eat a fast food burger, I’m going to have to work extra hard on the walk that evening. I will have to walk 4 miles, instead of the usual 3. My poor doggies.

This is why I grow my own veggies, and do my own cooking. I don’t like to go out to eat. Ok, maybe once every third blue moon. I do love a good mexican meal, even if it is not as healthy as eating at home. And once in a while I like to treat myself and be waited on and have someone else clean the dishes. Not often, but once in a while…….


February 24th, 2009
3:14 pm

Yes, that and the amount of Carbs.


February 24th, 2009
3:20 pm

Yes please! This would be so helpful (although I realize cumbersome for the restaurant owner)to ensure that the healthy meal you think you are consuming is actually healthy. Perhaps they could have nutriton facts for the regular printed menu but waive the requirement for the “daily special” as this would be incredibly difficult.

mystery poster

February 25th, 2009
2:56 pm

Oh, Please!!!
Your comment is exactly why this information needs to be made publicly available:

…”it doesn’t require a doctoral degree to figure out that a cheeseburger has way more calories than a salad.”

McDonald’s Southwest Salad: 400 calories
McDonald’s Cheeseburger: 310 calories