Jan 25, 2011

Nutrition Labels

Another benefit of the new Healthcare Reform (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) mandate is more labels for us to read. Get ready for those small print signs and menus in fast food places and restaurants to get smaller. The new government labeling for nutritional value is upon us. Restaurants are required to post mandated nutrition labels on menus if they have 20 locations or more. Rules vary by state. Home delivery packages are exempted from the label rules.

According to "Choices" magazine, 54 percent of consumers say they read nutrition labels and use the information to make purchasing decisions. That number is up 24 points since 1990, but there's been no observed decrease in obesity rates.

If it is true that two thirds of the people in this country are overweight, then it is logically also true that the remaining third are abnormal. Maybe this is really a reverse psychology to bring them up to normal.

Letting consumers know exactly how many calories are in their food is likely to do little to change their eating habits. Study results show that adding nutritional information to menus does not change consumer behavior. Average sales and average calories per sale did not change. One study suggests that some restaurants may reduce their portion size to keep the calories down. Hmmm, do I really want that juicy steak that I came here for, or should I just have a celery stick? Maybe I should stick to places with less than 20 locations.