EDITORIAL: Mandatory posting of calorie counts at chain restaurants good for all

SHARE EDITORIAL: Mandatory posting of calorie counts at chain restaurants good for all

(AP Photo/Ed Ou)

We’re happy to see the numbers. You should be, too.

On Monday, a federal rule went into effect requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards, along with information on fat and sodium levels. The rule also covers convenience stores, grocery stores, movie theaters, pizza delivery companies and vending machine operators. Wherever we look, we’ll learn how many calories we’re eating.


For some people, the results might be eye-opening.

Maybe you never suspected that that “diet” six-inch tuna sandwich clocks in at 470 calories — more in some cases than same-sized sandwiches with meat in them.

Perhaps you’ll be surprised at some of the numbers alongside other menu items, whether they are higher or lower than you thought. That’s the point. Without interfering with anyone’s right to eat what they desire, the calorie counts will help all of us make informed choices.

The rule has run into lots of resistance since Congress pushed for it eight years ago. Last May, the Trump administration pulled it back just four days before it was to go into effect, even though many businesses had already started posting the calorie counts.

Earlier this month, the Food Marketing Institute complained the rule was “poorly designed” for the grocery and drug stores the FMI represents. On Monday, a national association representing convenience stores said “the rule as it exists is unnecessarily onerous on convenience retailers and should be amended to provide additional flexibility in compliance.”

Studies have reached conflicting conclusions about whether posting calorie counts will change people’s behavior, although Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said last week calorie counts lead customers to order an average of up to 50 fewer calories a day, a number that can lead to a significant number of flatter tummies over the long haul. In addition, there is some evidence food providers will find ways to trim out unnecessary calories once they have to broadcast those numbers, which benefits everyone.

Calorie counts aren’t a cure-all for obesity. But they are a sensible step that can be part of a successful strategy to make people healthier. We’re all for that. No one wants America to become a vast waist land.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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