Post Calorie Counts

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), April 9, 2009 | Go to article overview

Post Calorie Counts


Byline: The Register-Guard

Sticker shock can be edifying, whether it hits when you are shopping for a new car or ordering a bacon double cheeseburger for lunch.

In the case of an 1,100-calorie mondoburger - or an 840-calorie apple fritter or a 510-calorie white chocolate mocha - sticker shock can be healthy if consumers use calorie information to guide their selection of menu items.

The House Human Services Committee is scheduled to vote as early as Friday on a bill that would require all Oregon restaurants with 15 or more outlets nationwide to post calorie content in plain view on menus, menu boards and on drive-through displays. Those that fail to comply would face fines of up to $1,000.

Most Oregonians want to know what they and their children are eating. Those who don't would be free to ignore calorie counts. Or they could pretend the numbers represent how many seconds it will take until food items have been sufficiently digested to make room for more.

Nearly two-thirds of Oregon's adults are overweight, and childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past 30 years. Displaying calorie information won't solve what has become a national public health crisis. But it's a start - and an important one in a fast-food universe where calorie contents can be deceiving. (For example, a blueberry muffin and Venti Mocha Frappucino at Starbucks have more calories than a regular cheeseburger and medium fries at McDonald's.)

The bill is based on an ordinance that took effect last month in Multnomah County. California, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle and King County, Wash., all have laws requiring restaurants to post calories on their menus. Similar laws have been proposed in at least 18 other places, including Chicago and Nashville, Tenn., along with Texas, Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts. …

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