Mayor Bloomberg has been fighting – along with city health commissioner Thomas Frieden – to force chain restaurants to display calorie information more prominently. Though he’s been labeled the “nanny mayor” by critics, Bloomberg insists that in a city where over half of the adults are overweight and a third of restaurant meals are taken at greasy, high-calorie establishments like McDonald’s and Burger King, people need to know what they are eating.
The city has some 23,000 restaurants, but only chain eateries that have multiple establishments (such as the Golden Arches) will have to display calorie information on the menu placards. Though chain restaurants are only about 10% of the total number of establishments in New York City, one-third of meals come from this fraction of processed free radical laden chemical junk.
Under the new ruling – a similar attempt was overturned by the courts previously – the caloric value will have to be just as visible as the price of the item. Bloomberg and Frieden, along with their advocates, say that many folks simply don’t realize that a single meal of a burger and fries often supplies most of one’s daily calories. While restaurants counter that people can find nutrition and calorie information on posters, websites and fliers, those concerned about burgeoning obesity and diabetes rates say that more clearly must be done. (The proposal, if approved, would not take effect until next spring.)
What do you think? Is government intervention interfering with adult responsibility and the free market? Or is the long term lack of visible nutrition information irresponsible and unethical on the part of chain restaurants that typically serve unhealthy fare?