Would Calories on Menus Change Your Behavior?

May 19, 2010

So I saw this on my local news the other night:
WCCO TV Good Question Calorie Counts

Basically, included in the new health care bill was a regulation that calorie counts must be posted on menus at restaurants with more than 20 locations.   So Good Question asked - would that change what people ordered. 

That really got me thinking.  How would seeing the calorie content on the menu at my favorite restaurant effect what I ordered?  Well... I usually know what I'm ordering before I step foot in a restaurant these days, but if I didn't, it would definitely effect my choice.  Either way, I think it is important for the consumer to be given information to base a decision on if they so wish.  I certainly wouldn't want the government controlling what foods showed up on the menus, but giving me some important information in order to make a better decision - I appreciate that!  If you're doing Weight Watchers or any other sort of calorie counting program, that is something that really makes eating out much easier.

Interesting that I just saw this because 2 weeks ago I was in New York, and they already have a law regarding this.  I went to Dunkin Donuts one morning on my trip - mostly to get a coffee - but I did need something for breakfast too, and I saw this staring back at me while looking at the bins of muffins:


YIKES!!!  Keep in mind this wasn't a ginormous muffin either... fairly regular-sized for a coffee shop.  Just to give some perspective a Big Mac is 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am certainly not saying a Big Mac is a better choice, but at least it is more filling than a muffin.  My whole point, though, is that it definitely led me to something different than the muffin.

So what do you think?  Will seeing calories counts on menus change what you order?

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  1. Hi Sarah, I loved your post. Yes I want to know what I'm eating. It sure would make things a lot easier ~ I get tired of googling restaurants to get their calorie info. You look great by the way - You are an inspiration! Hugs!

  2. I know it would make a difference. I think of those things. . . like the angus burgers at McD are 700 calories or more. When we were in CA last fall they had it at the Cheesecake Factory (we got one piece of cheesecake and shared with three people)

  3. Heck yes it would! It's so hard to guess! Eating out sucks just for that reason! I would love having calories on the menu!

  4. Absolutely! If they'd do fat and fiber too, I'd be golden!

  5. I'll never forget the first time I looked at the Red Robin nutritional content menu. Of course the burgers and fries and "fried stuff" was high cal, but there is NOTHING reasonable in that place! So, heck yeah, knowing the nutritional content of food in restaurants would probably affect my choice 95% of the time!

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  7. Hey Sarah! Just reading your blog - I think you know I live in New York and since that law was put into practice I have not eaten anything at Nathan's hot dogs. You can't really eat anything there that's less than 800 calories. (place on Conie Island that is now a major chain) I remember having that same experience with Dunkin Donuts at an airport too. Isn't it crazy that a donut is actually much less calories than a muffin? Who knew? Starbucks was another big hit for me. Of course there are quite a few things you can get at starbucks that are reasonable, but it also really puts things into perspective. I honestly wish actual restaurants were required to do it too - not just chains.


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