Friday, February 24, 2012

Good choices require good information

Calories count. We know we count calories in order to manage our weight. But you can’t count if you don’t know how many calories are in your choices.

Chicken pot pie is pretty obviously not low calorie but it has meat and even some vegetables so is maybe a good choice. If you eat in a restaurant in Los Angeles, however, the 1,403 calories in that choice smacks you right in the face.

After you have set your taste buds for tasty pot roast, 1,004 calories can be a real buzz kill, but knowing the calorie count also motivates better nutritional choices, including eating fewer calories.

In a move decried by some as government interference, California has implemented a requirement that most menus include calorie listings. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform) the requirement will go national soon.

There it is, the cause of America’s obesity epidemic, right on the page. Most of us eat far more calories than we realize, so the new regulation is intended to help us at least know what we’re choosing.

Restaurant lobbyists and owners squealed about the cost of changing menus. (It’s strange they never seem to grumble about the cost when they change prices, but fair enough). This government regulation did cost them money. It has not affected sales and may even support menu items that could increase profitability.

This government mandate increases transparency, giving customers information to make choices that may help reduce weight-related health-care costs for all of us. It seems a reasonable tradeoff, even if we have to turn down the pot roast.

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