Americans have been focused on the changes proposed by both the House and Senate for health care coverage
and delivery, there are other provisions in these
reform bills which would require restaurants having more than 20 locations to
provide calorie information on menus and menu boards.
menus must contain a statement about recommended daily calorie intake levels;
nutrition literature must be available on site, and for businesses owning 20 or
more vending machines, signage about the vended items is required nearest to
the selection buttons.
restaurant menu labeling initiatives have been approved in four states, and
this initiative is supported by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), The
National Restaurant Association (NRA) and Republican and Democratic politicians
alike, but who are we kidding? We can’t legislate America to better health.
understand that substantiated nutrition and health information can help
consumers make better food choices, but this proposal is laughable. When
research studies have shown that consumers can barely understand the Nutrition
Facts Panel, how can they possibly understand—in less than the 30-seconds it
takes them to decide what they’ll order at the drive thru—how that menu item
fits into the context of their daily diet?
In the European Union (EU), an
important point in their new nutrition labeling regulations states, “The use of
nutrition and health claims can only be permitted if the average consumer can
be expected to understand the beneficial effects expressed in the claims.”
Personally, I think that’s smart, since it takes into consideration social,
cultural and linguistic differences. Let’s face it, if you or I go into a fast
food restaurant for lunch and order a burger and fries, we know dinner should
be healthier—a salad, grilled fish or chicken. Someone not so reasonably well
informed, observant or circumspect might not make that deduction.
So, are menus really the place for
nutrition education? I don’t think so. Given our eat-and-run society, menu
boards with mouse print will most likely cause confusion or just plain old
apathy. Do we need better nutrition education in schools? Absolutely. Do we
need healthier school lunches?
Without a doubt. And do we, as adults, need to take a bit more personal
responsibility for our weight, our health and our overall quality of life? Of
course. And we need to lead by example, so our children will follow. Personal
responsibility is highly underrated.