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Do You Want Extra Calories With That?

April 8th, 2011 - By Therese Madden

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The Food and Drug Administration recently released its proposed menu-labeling regulations for chain restaurants nationwide. Ahead of the curve, Philadelphia has required these restaurants to list nutritional information on their menus for over a year now. The jury’s still out on what kind of a change has been made.


The Food and Drug Administration recently released it’s proposed menu labeling regulations. Meaning in addition to thinking about taste and price when making a decision, more people will also be thinking about calories. Or will they?

Fast Food Menu

We went into a fast food restaurant to check. “I don’t look at none of that I just want a cheeseburger with some ketchup and onions and I am out of here, that’s what I do,” says one customer.

Ahead of the national curve, Philadelphia has required chain restaurants to list this information for over a year now, but not everyone has noticed. After placing his order, this customer was asked if he looks at the calorie count. “Why do they got the calories up there? I never really read it, cause I get one basic thing.”

The menu board in this fast food restaurant is pretty cluttered, it almost seems purposefully so. Just order from the pictures, forget the numbers. But some customers pay attention, “oh it does make a difference with the calories, but we are going to eat them anyway. For those who are conscious, who want to know, we should put them up there,” says a woman waiting in line to order. “I think it’s a great idea, I think people are entitled to be informed about what they are putting in their mouths and in their bodies and some will pay lots of attention to it, and some will not pay much attention to it,” says Gary Foster, Director for the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. 

French Fries

“We need to care about that in a society where two-thirds of the country is at least overweight, and a third are obese. So I think this isn’t a nice to know, it’s really a need to know. And people can decide to follow it or not.” It’s hard to tell this early in the game how many people are letting the nutritional information sway their decision. But, once the FDA’s regulations go into effect, probably by the middle of next year, more data will be collected. Foster says even if people don’t totally change their eating habits, he thinks the nutritional information could alter a critical piece of the puzzle, portion size. 

He says, “you might know that french fries are fattening, but you may not know the difference between a small fry, a medium fry, and a large fry. And I think when people actually see the numbers behind their decision and they are calorie conscious I think it’s really useful information.”

FYI, at the fast food restaurant we will call “Burger X” a small fry is 230 calories, the large is a whopping 500.

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