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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wellness Progress: Calories on Menus

Another small victory in our collective battle against the bulge:
Late last month, California became the first state in the nation to require chain restaurants to publicly display calorie counts and other nutritional information on their menus and menus boards, or face a range of fines.
According to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other public officials, the new law is an attempt to educate consumers and help them make healthier choices. But it’s clearly also a move to combat the obesity epidemic, which costs California alone $28.6 billion in health-care fees, lost productivity and workers' compensation.

Similar legislation has been approved in several other cities across the country, including New York, Seattle and San Francisco, while proposals are pending in Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia.
In addition, blogger Rebecca Scritchfield predicts that other cities and states will quickly follow California’s lead. She also points out that many large chain restaurants are likely to make these required menu changes national, for a variety of reasons:

“[If] national chains need to post the information in one state, why not go national with the changes — it is much cheaper in the long run!
That’s exactly what Yum! brands did, Scritchfield writes.

From USA Today: In a move certain to rock the restaurant industry, Yum Brands (YUM), parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut… recently announced plans to begin posting product calorie information on the indoor menu boards nationwide at company-owned restaurants. Calorie information will appear next to a product’s name and price…

“We’re a leader,” says Jonathan Blum, Yum senior vice president, who spoke with USA TODAY ahead of [the recent] announcement. “We hope all restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores follow our lead.””

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