I was thrilled to see a story in this morning’s Washington Post reporting that calorie information on menus does nothing to sway consumer choice.
Evidence is mounting that calorie labels – promoted by some nutritionists and the restaurant industry to help stem the obesity crisis – do not steer most people to lower-calorie foods. Eating habits rarely change, according to several studies. Perversely, some diners see the labels yet consume more calories than usual. People who use the labels often don’t need to. (Meaning: They are thin.)
IWF has been beating this drum for years–pointing out the various studies that show these regulatory measures are a waste of time and money for the food industry. I’m glad to see a mainstream media outlet like the Post finally report it too.
But, will it matter? As I’ve written before, the White House is determined to further regulate food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, vending machines, etc, and they’ve already managed a regulatory victory with the inclusion of a provision in the Obamacare bill requiring chain restaurants and vending machines to post calorie information on every item served.
In defense of this measure, the President’s Obesity Task Force cited a tiny study conducted in one subway sandwich store on only 292 participants, the vast majority of whom where adult white males who admitted they were currently dieting. This isn’t exactly research upon which major policy decisions should be based.
How convenient that the Task Force missed the multiple other studies conducted at some of America’s best universities that showed calorie information had zero impact on people’s food choices. Oh sure, it’s totally understandable. I mean, who’s ever heard of Duke, NYU, and Yale–each of which has conducted major studies on calorie labelling.
But the White House isn’t the only one ignoring the evidence. The hand wringers at the Center for Science (yeah right!) in the Public Interest aren’t backing off. Just this week, the CSPI issued a statement calling on the Administration to enact stricter menu labelling regulations. That’s predictable behavior from the super nannies at the CSPI but what’s troubling is that the letter was cosigned by 80 different groups including the American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National PTA.
These organizations need to be aware that they’re backing bad science and punishing the food industry with unnecessary, burdensome regulations that will do nothing to improve the health (or shrink the waistlines) of Americans.
Who knows, hopefully someone picked up the Post this morning.