Is more information helping?

A Minute ago we talked about the mandated calorie information on menus. Food package labels have been revised too. We’re kind of a “more is better” society.

So, here we go again: how is more nutrition information working out for us?

New York city has the longest history with posted calorie information which began there in July 2008. A study in 2009, conducted by NYU and Yale, showed fast food orders contained an average of 825 calories before calorie postings and 846 after the info was on the menus. Average calorie orders INCREASED!

Half of the people said that hadn’t even noticed the information. But about 14 percent of the patrons at four fast food restaurants (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC) in a poor neighborhood, said the info influenced their orders. Unfortunately, when restaurant receipts were checked, people were actually ordering MORE calories.

So, first let’s admit self-reports are not reliable. (And when reading a study, even in a legit publication, note this red flag!)

It seems like we want info and healthy options, but we don’t use them.

Before adding to info overload, let’s answer a few questions:

  • Do we really expect nutritional content and total calories to be the most important consideration at a fast food restuarant?
  • If price is the reason we’re eating fast food do health considerations enter in to the equation at all?
  • Could there be just too much info on menu boards?
  • Has listing calories influenced restaurants to reduce portion size?
  • Have menu options changed for the better?

Will more info make a difference? It doesn’t look like it short term and it’s doubtful long term, but we’ll see.

Why bother considering these questions? Who does it hurt? Every new regulation costs us consumers and it doesn’t help.  Why continue down this path?

Perhaps using these tried and failed solutions prevent us from finding innovative solutions to be well.

Marcia

Permanent link to this article: http://marciacrawford.net/archives/information-helping

Caloric cocktail?

As restaurants add calorie information to their menus, COCKTAIL calorie secrets are being exposed too. Those calories from alcohol are frequently ignored when watching one’s weight, so let the shock factor begin.

Those big summery, fruity (AKA sugary) drinks…piña colada (600 cals), frozen daiquiris (550 cals) and margaritas (600 cals), Long Island tea (780 cals) anyone?

There are multiple problems with those drinks – volume being the first. When served in huge glasses or in pitchers, the calorie counts often soar over 500/drink.

Secondly, once one starts drinking and because these are sweetened drinks, they just seem refreshing and not so alcoholic. So here comes a second one. Oops. Thirdly, these drinks typically are accompanied by high calorie snacks. And finally, a celebratory atmosphere tends to encourage more than one drink.

A funny aside is that bars and restaurants were trying to find a loophole on their cocktails by stating calories in the alcohol alone avoiding the calorie-laden mixers.

What to do? Obviously limiting your drink to one is helpful (and your liver will thank you). Avoiding high calorie mixers, including fruit juice which to the body looks just like soda, will save a few calories. Beer and wine, in proper portions, tend to be lower in calories.

Think before you drink to be well,

Marcia

Permanent link to this article: http://marciacrawford.net/archives/caloric-cocktail

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