Calorie labels become federal law, but will we change eating habits?

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Calorie labels become federal law, but will we change eating habits?

An Obamacare calorie count rule went into effect on Monday.

The inclination to provide consumers with nutritional information is laudable. "By comparison, diners who chose from a menu with calorie information to the right of each menu item ordered meals with only 5.4% fewer calories".

The Food and Drug Administration says that's OK because it wants to help restaurants and grocery stores come into compliance over the coming year instead of issuing fines or warning letters.

That's not much, but FDA head Scott Gottlieb cited that finding while defending the new menu guidelines.

However, it's likely you won't notice any difference in some major fast-food chains like McDonald's or Starbucks.

Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition, said the law is not going to solve obesity problems, adding that it's a socio-economic problem.

The CSPI has for decades published eye-popping annual reports on the calorie, fat and salt content of meals at popular restaurant chains and filed a lawsuit to try to force the federal government to enact the menu labeling law. "You're comparing apples to apples - literally". Chains, supermarkets, amusement parks and movie theaters must also comply.

While Gottlieb says there is "no single more effective public health action" than reducing sodium, there is much debate over whether salt is good or bad within the scientific and nutritionist communities. "As a consumer, we need to own our own", said Douglas. Wherever we look, we'll learn how many calories we're eating. "We know that providing calorie information on menu labels actually inspires consumers to make smarter choices about overall consumption, when they want to", Gottlieb told The Washington Post. Think of how many of us now buy take-out lunches, dinners, and snacks from 7 Eleven, Stop and Shop, or Whole Foods.

There will now be greater consistency in menu labeling, as businesses that are required to post labeling will now have one nation-wide set of requirements to meet that will no longer vary from state to state, or even city to city.

According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans eat and drink one-third of their calories away from home.

"Over time", he said, "this can drive population-wide changes".

Second, the FDA rule requires the calories to be put in context. For pizza delivery companies that is rarely inside the store, he noted.

Domino's hopes this method will satisfy the FDA because changing all of its menu boards would be costly. "I pay more attention to the low-calorie options", he said.

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