Calorie Counts on Menus Not the Hoped for Panacea

Well it turns out that Americans are choosing to get fat in droves, in spite of the fact that we have plenty of information to tell us how bad certain foods are for us. That’s the result of a survey that was conducted recently at New York University and published in the International Journal of Obesity.

400 Parents and Teenagers Questioned

The study asked 400 parents and teenagers about their food choices in New York City. New York City became the very first city in the country to require calorie counts be listed on menus in restaurants across the city back in July, 2008.

The results were quite startling to say the least. One would have expected that some impact would have been seen on the eating choices of the parents and teenagers and yet the results showed almost exactly the opposite.

9% of Teenagers Changed Eating Habits

The good news is that more than half of all teenagers surveyed for the study did happen to notice the calorie counts at major fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King.

In fact, 57% reported that they took note of the amount of calories they were eating before they placed an order for their Happy Meals, Big Macs and buckets of chicken.

However, in results which were extremely disappointing to researches, who had predicted that the new menu requirements would help to fight what has become a very significant obesity epidemic in this country (according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully 2/3 of adult Americans and 15 percent of children are either overweight or obese).

However, almost none of the children seemed to care. Just 9% of the teenagers questioned reported having made different choices based on the calorie counts mentioned on the menus.

Researchers Still Unsure

In spite of the disappointing results of the survey, researchers say it’s still too early to tell if the nationwide roll –out of required calorie counts, recently mandated by congress, will be as ineffective as they have been so far in New York City.

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