Part of the health care reform legislation that was recently signed into law includes a requirement for chain restaurants to post calorie counts on the menu boards and drive-throughs at all of their locations. Panera Bread was the first chain to post calorie counts, and while they haven’t seen a huge change in consumer choice, they do see people opting for 1/2 sandwich with soup option instead of ordering a whole sandwich, some of which contain over 1,000 calories.
New York City was the first city to require chain restaurants to post calorie counts, back in 2008. So far, research suggests that the Big Apple’s battle against obesity has not had a huge impact. In fact, a Health Affairs study found that only half of the customers living in lower class New York City neighborhoods with high rates of obesity and diabetes even noticed the posted calorie counts.
Junk food taxes already exist in some parts of the country, and there are new initiatives to increase existing taxes or add new junk food products to the taxable list. But research on the soda tax shows that small increases in price does not impact consumption very much, certainly not enough to offer any health benefits.
Will posted calorie counts at chain restaurants impact what you order when you dine out? Will increased taxes on junk food lower your consumption of such food items? Do you think these kind of laws will have any impact on America’s obesity epidemic?