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.


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