Stream of Consciousness

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh, you didn't know that muffin was bad for you?

MSNBC article about New Yorkers' reaction to the new laws the city finally got passed that requires fast-food type restaurants to display calorie content of food as prominently as the price.

Outside the Forest Hills’ Dunkin’ Donuts, Juan Restrepo, the 45-year-old owner of a construction company, said he was quitting corn muffins — 510 calories! — this time for good.

“My daughter warned me about them,” he lamented. “I just didn’t listen.”

Just proves the point that we don't believe it until we see it. So maybe seeing it over and over and over again will finally drill home how we managed to become to the fattest country on the planet. Changing our habits will change companies menu items (ah, capitalist supply & demand cycle) which means more healthy options for everyone - yay!

New York is not the only city pushing calorie labels. New laws in Seattle and California’s Santa Clara and San Francisco are scheduled to go into effect later this year, including some more stringent than New York’s, requiring restaurants to post information about sodium, carbs, fats and cholesterol in addition to calories.

Hey Boston - where are we? I want calorie counts on my menus!

I actually wrote my Law, Policy, and Society thesis about this topic in December. Here's some really fun facts:

* Only 35% of Americans are healthy (according to BMIs)
* After the Nutrition and Labeling Education Act 1990 (you know, all those lovely labels on the stuff you buy at the grocery store): 48% changed their decision to buy or use a product and 24% to 37% choose high calorie items less often
* New York City residents at Subway restaurants who reported seeing calorie information bought 48 fewer calories on average and those who claimed they actively used the information bought 92 few calories. “The Health Department estimates that, if the same pattern held at every restaurant covered by the proposed regulation, its adoption would spare at least 150,000 people from obesity over the next five years, preventing more than 30,000 cases of diabetes” (NYBOH PR). If we use US Census Bureau information to estimated the population of New York City to be 3% of the national population, these statistics become even more significant. Federal adoption of the MEAL Act would then spare an estimated five million people from obesity in the next five years and prevent one million cases of diabetes.

(Let me know if you'd like to read a full copy.)

No comments: