An article was recently published on MSN.com titled “9 Reasons it Costs More to Eat Out.” The number 8 reason was “Calorie Counts on Menus.” In March of 2011, provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) were established requiring that restaurants and similar retail food institutions that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items, including food on display and self-service food. The article said the FDA estimates that “complying with the rules [of the ACA] will cost $315 million in the first year, and more than $44 million each year after that.
The primary reasons behind this law are stated as being a chance to get one step closer to a healthier country. I completely understand the rationale behind this act and I think the Presidents intentions were respectable; however, I don’t see how much of a difference it’s going to make if people simply see how many calories they are eating. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all have that slight (or sometimes immense) feeling of guilt after seeing our calorie intake from just one meal out, but is that really going to stop people from eating unhealthy? And is it truly worth all the millions of dollars being spent on restaurants complying with these new regulations?
I know that stating nutritional information will prevent some people from going any further with their purchase as they’re dining out, but looking at the big picture, it seems if we really wanted to prevent obesity in America we would take much more severe actions. But then we encounter the issue of freedom as all people have the right to choose how they live their lives. It’s quite a predicament for our nation when dealing with health issues because it’s not easy to regulate food intake in a country that has more than enough food to feed the whole world. So this causes me to wonder what the real issue is, health or greed? Do Americans need to be shown (and expensively shown, at that) how unhealthy they’re eating habits are or do they need to be taught a lesson on improper food consumption? It seems we need to rethink our approach on moving toward an overall healthier country because, so far, health-habits don’t appear to be improving.