Americans Ignore the New Required Menu Labels

“The children and teens in the study ate an average of 645 calories per meal before and after the labeling rules took effect. Nearly 60 percent of the children said they had noticed the calorie counts on restaurant menus before ordering, but more than 90 percent said the labels didn’t influence how they ordered. Even when parents ordered the food for their children, the calorie information on menus had no effect on how much the children consumed.”

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/after-menu-labels-parents-and-kids-order-same-foods/

Most teens and adults can read the menu signs that reveal high calorie counts, however these studies show that they choose to disregard the facts provided to them. People who read the signs have at least somewhat of an idea that they shouldn’t be consuming foods with high caloric content. Then why do they still do it?

There are many reasons behind why Americans are continually making poor food choices today. I will offer the 3 that I see most prevalent;

1. Media:

For starters, the typical American child now spends about 21 hours a week watching TV. Each year they see over 30,000 TV advertisements per year. How often is it that you see fruits and vegetables advertised on TV? How often is it that you see a mother cooking from scratch on TV? The answer is almost never. Packaged food and fast food ads dominate the market. They are constantly marketing directly to the “American family” and children.

2. Social support:

It is socially acceptable to make poor food choices because the majority of the people around us are doing the exact same thing. People feel comfortable making poor food choices on a regular basis.

3. Education

While adults and teens can read the calorie count on the label in front of them, they do not have a benchmark to compare the calorie count too. They do not know how many calories are appropriate for a snack or meal. They also do not even know the definition of a calorie. Similarly, the menu label doesn’t say what ingredients are in the product. Even if people did know what kind of ingredient was in the product, the majority of Americans do not know how to differentiate between  healthy ingredients from unhealthy ones. See the problem?

In conclusion, the government has to do ALOT more than simply place calories on menu items. People must start taking accountability, if not for themselves then at least to set better examples for their children and fellow Americans. It is time to make some changes, this country is desperate.

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2 Comments

Filed under Nutrition

2 responses to “Americans Ignore the New Required Menu Labels

  1. I was in a restaurant the other day, looking at the calorie counts ranging from 600 to 1200. I usually take home leftovers.

    • Just because you cut the portion size in half it does not mean that the ingredients or the food content are healthy. Restaurants add ingredients to make food taste better. Most restaurants are far from concerned about providing healthy food options. This is not to say that you should never eat at restaurants. The majority of your meals should be home cooked, it is perfectly okay to splurge every so often.

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