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October 26, 2007

Calorie Information Wars: McDonald’s Versus the ‘Nanny Mayor’

By Worker Bee
19 Comments

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?

Speak up!

Further reading:

Want to get diabetes? Just follow the diabetes pyramid!

What Mark eats in a day

Mark’s carb pyramid

The Scariest Cheese Fried Ball Thing Ever

The 2,700 Calorie Appetizer

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19 Comments on "Calorie Information Wars: McDonald’s Versus the ‘Nanny Mayor’"

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Crystal
Crystal
8 years 11 months ago

Frieden says, “people need to know what they’re eating.” A list of calories does not tell you what you’re eating. All ingredients listed right down to what the cows and chicks are eating would be better(frightful). I’m not a calorie counter.

Obviously fast food is responsible but you can’t blame Mcdonalds because you’re fat either.

Government intervention? Most people who are concerned(obsessed) about their weight already know how many calories and fat grams are in, well, everything. Others might be shocked for a minute or two and then eat it anyway.

Joe Matasic
Joe Matasic
8 years 11 months ago
I’m definitely against the proposed rules. It should definitely be available that they have it all (nutrition facts and ingredients) available right there easily. The problem is not only government intervention is that they apply them unfairly. Only the big chains. They cry that independents don’t have to do it and then the independents respond that they can’t afford to have each meal tested, they they change meals too often, etc. Basically though this boils down to me being against government intervention. There are so many things I could go on and on about with the government screwing up our… Read more »
Beth
8 years 11 months ago
I think the reasons restaurants balk at having to display this information is because they know it will hurt business. I might know that a cheeseburger isn’t great for me, but if I know it contains 700 calories, you can be sure I won’t order it. Putting the calorie information on the food items is stupid, because once you’ve bought it, you’re going to eat it, even if you see that it has 29 grams of fat (which is the case with a Big Mac). I wrote a post recently about the caloric nightmare that is Chili’s menu. Even the… Read more »
JIMBO
JIMBO
8 years 11 months ago

I think anything that gets in the way of McDonald’s and there evil greasy empire, is fantastic!
They are systematically poisoning our youth and targeting our country’s poor people. Specifically, McDonald’s goes after blacks and Latino people’s, watch there disgusting commercials and see, they don’t even try to hide it. McDonald’s shame on you!

Ed Parsons
Ed Parsons
8 years 11 months ago

Everyone knows the score about what is served at these places. There are better things for the City government to do.

Sonagi
Sonagi
8 years 11 months ago
Over the last five years, we taxpayers have forked over an average of $16 billion a year in farm subsidies, most of which funded feed crops for livestock. As long as the US government continues to keep prices of grains, grain by-products like HFCS, and grain-fed animals artifically low, one cannot talk honestly about personal responsibility and choice in making food purchases. McDonalds top selling menu items, from the wheat buns to the burgers to the fries, are made from government subsidized foodstuffs. Obviously, it wouldn’t be feasible to list complete nutritional information on a menu, but providing calorie counts… Read more »
60 in 3 - Fitness and Health
8 years 11 months ago

This is exactly the kind of government intervention I do want. I don’t want government legislating behavior or prohibiting things. I just want them to make information available so I can make an informed decision. They should do this everywhere and make sure ALL restaurants do it, not just the big chains. In fact, it would probably be more valuable with the smaller places since they’re the ones who have no nutritional information available anywhere.

Gal

Kevin Brancato
8 years 11 months ago
Repeat after me: THIS IS INEFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT POLICY! I have seen NO hard scientific evidence that even a small share of obese people will change 1) what they eat for a single meal, or 2) their long-run eating habits, when presented with clear nutritional information while ordering, buying, or preparing food. In fact, just yesterday I was in an all-day meeting that provided me an anecdote indicating just how ridiculous this fast food calorie policy is. Half the folks at the meeting were significantly overweight. They were all college educated folks with sedentary jobs; all were in their 40s or… Read more »
Sonagi
Sonagi
8 years 11 months ago
Obese people, no, Kevin, because obviously they do little or nothing to maintain a healthy weight and wouldn’t be detered even by graphic images of calcified arteries or diabetic amputees. But that doesn’t mean that nobody would benefit by having a few centimeters of space devoted to calorie information. I read labels, I know other people who read labels, and if some people change their choices based on calorie information, then the law has made a difference. After all, Lean Cuisine and other low-cal frozen food products post their calorie and counts and fat grams in large print on the… Read more »
Mike
Mike
8 years 11 months ago

If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. If you have to ask how many calories it contains, then you shouldn’t eat it. And if you are eating at McDonald’s, you don’t care about your health.

If consumers really wanted this information, they would demand it. But, again, no one thinks a Big Mac is healthy. Yet millions are eaten anyway.

People, as a rule, won’t do anything hard to improve their long-term health. Anyone who has worked as a trainer or dieting consultant can attest to that.

Beth
8 years 11 months ago
I absoutely disagree, Mike. Knowing the specific caloric content of an item does make a difference. Years ago, I wanted a Haagen Dazs chocolate almond ice cream bar. I knew it wasn’t health food, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I walked over the the 7-11, I picked it up, I flipped it over, I saw that it contained 28 grams of fat, I put it back, and I’ve never eaten another. Will everyone behave this way when confronted with the actual calories in the food they’re about to eat? No. But if even a small percentage of people… Read more »
Adam
Adam
8 years 10 months ago

Has McDonald’s come out with numbers on how much this regulation would cost them?

I think if the government thinks it’s important to have calories published, it should foot the bill.

My feeling is that the benefit that would come from such a regulation would not justify its costs for some of the same reasons mentioned above (high cost, won’t affect behavior much, etc.).

Alison
Alison
5 years 8 months ago

You mean other than in the form of subsidies for basically all the stuff McDonalds uses to make its food? It’s already been mentioned that McDonalds changes its signage regularly. The cost involved would almost certainly be minimal.

naisioxerloro
naisioxerloro
8 years 10 months ago

Hi.
Good design, who make it?

Sara
8 years 10 months ago

w3inet.com

Seth Delackner
8 years 8 months ago

For all the crying of government regulation and the beauty of the “free” market, a properly functioning free market depends on both parties to a transaction being given fair information about the product being considered. If we don’t force them to put the calorie count (or the trace pesticide content) of their food labeled right there next to the name and price, of course they will hide it.

Which would you buy? “$2.99 Gourmet Burger 900 kcal, 1ug pesticide” or “$5.99 Burger 500kcal No pesticide”

Seth Delackner
8 years 8 months ago

My apologies for commenting twice, but this is good:

In Japan I am quite used to seeing calorie counts, right there on the menu at not just fast food places, but chain sit-down restaurants of even respectable quality. I don’t know the regulatory structure in place, but most places here that are corporate run have calorie counts (even karaoke parlors often list the calorie count of their cocktails!)

I find the calorie count helps draw my attention before buying something I would not necessarily have otherwised noticed seems to contain tons of low-grade oil calories.

anna
anna
4 years 7 months ago

The govt. has- forced us to wear seatbelts, labelled cigarettes, and booze. Why not food? We are in dire straights with elementary kids getting kidney stones from too much sodium (soda) and getting fat. It’s a start…

Andrea
Andrea
4 years 7 months ago

McDonalds has all nutritional info listed on the web, and often on the back of the paper placemat sheet, and often in pamphlets in the outlet (at least here in Canada). It sounds like stupid pointless overkill. Post all the info you want, and people will just joke about it or ignore it because they don’t know enough to interpret its significance.

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