Did you know any of this? You will now that Pres Obama has signed a new health bill that requires food chains to post calorie information in their stores and on their menus. Check out the NY Times article HERE This more or less nationalizes a policy that New York City already has in place. So in 2011, when you walk into McDonald’s, you’ll know that the Super Size Extra Value Meal #3 that you’re about to scarf down will set you back over 1000 calories! You’re morning cup a joe? If it’s a medium caffe latte from Starbuck’s, you’re starting your day off with a 272 calorie drink!
The million dollar question here is whether this new practice will influence people enough so that they change their eating habits. It’s a tough one. This bill is definitely a good start, but I wouldn’t call it a panacea by any means.
The way I see it is that there are several types of people when it comes to eating habits:
- The ignorant who don’t care
- Those who care, but are ignorant
- Those who are knowledgeable about food, but don’t care
- Those who are knowledgeable about food, do care, and make a strong effort to make healthy eating and living a part of their lives.
A bill like this will help out groups 1 and 2. Groups 3 and 4 are already relatively knowledgeable about food and calorie contents, and either care or don’t. For group 1, the people who don’t know and who don’t care may be shocked to learn how many calories they’re actually eating. I suspect a very small percentage of this group may change their eating habits, but the majority won’t. Why not? Because motivation comes from within. If those people aren’t motivated right now, a government bill isn’t going to instill motivation in them; it has to come from within.
Group 2 will be the biggest beneficiary of this new bill. I personally (and I’m sure all of you do too) know many people who have a goal to eat better and become more healthy, but who just have no clue how many calories and what types of calories they’re eating on a daily basis. I don’t have any studies in front of me, but I bet if you asked 100 people how many calories are in the above-mentioned McDonald’s meal, the average answer would be a good 30-40% lower than the actual.
For Group 2, this bill may be the small impetus that they need. It may get their brain juices flowing. They may go home and start researching calorie counts of different foods online. They may begin to read the back of food packages for nutrition info. They may research a particular food chain’s caloric information on its website prior to dining there (many food chains have this online already, and if they don’t, a third-party website usually does). So this bill is certainly a step in the right direction. It’s not going to change peoples’ lives, but it’s a step. And, as Lao-tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Do you think this bill will influence people enough to change?