Do you know how many calories are in the food you are eating when you eat at fast food restaurants? If you live in New York City then you know exactly how many are there because it tells you on the menu. New York City has already instituted a calories-on-menu law and even cited certain restaurants for their failure to comply with the law. Those restaurants have since put the calories on the menu and New Yorkers have had a few months to live with the change.

Self magazine polled 100% New York women to find out how they felt about the calories being posted on menus. 79% liked the fact that calories were now clearly posted. 55% of the women said they ordered less food because they knew what was in the meal. And 13% of the women stopped going to certain restaurants altogether because they knew what was in the food.

Now large chain restaurants in the United State have agreed to support national legislation that will agree them to do the same thing as restaurants in New York. Chain restaurants with 20 or more locations will have to list on the menu the number of calories per item and also make available upon request any additional information regarding the amount of sugar, salt, or cholesterol in food items.

The menu labeling legislation is supported by the National Restaurant Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. New York had a very high profile switch to the menu labeling, but California required fast-food restaurant chains to list calories on menus last September. Almost a dozen other states have considered similar health code provisions. The restaurant industry is backing the national legislation rather than dealing with a myriad of local and state laws about what restaurants must provide regarding calorie information.

Some wonder if the legislation passes how it will affect the obesity epidemic that fast food restaurants are often blamed for. Chances are it will stop some customers but business won’t end. After all, the nutritional information is printed on Little Debbie food items found in grocery stores and people still eat those. But in the small survey done on New York women 55% changed what they ordered because of the calories being posted. For most people the calories being listed will simply provide a moment to step back and reflect on what they plan to eat before they order. Though some people will not be deterred from their unhealthy choices if 55% of Americans would decide to change what they order it would go a long way toward fighting the obesity epidemic.

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