The Board of Health of New York City voted to require restaurant chains operating in New York City to prominently display calorie information on their menus and menu boards. The new regulation, which takes effect on March_31, 2008, applies to any New York City chain restaurant that has 15 or more outlets nationwide ? about 10% of all New York City restaurants.
Providing customers with prominently displayed calorie information at the time of purchase will help guide informed and healthier food choices, an important step in addressing the obesity epidemic that now affects millions of New York City residents.
“Obesity and diabetes are the only major health problems that are getting worse in New York City,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. “Today, the Board of Health passed a regulation that will help New Yorkers make healthier choices about what to eat; living longer, healthier lives as a result.”
Chain restaurants serve food that has been clearly associated with excess calories and obesity, and studies show that people who eat fast food regularly consume more calories than those who do not.
Many chain restaurants already post calorie information on the Internet, in brochures, or on food wrappers or tray liners. Customers rarely see this information when they’re ordering food, and without it, people greatly underestimate how many calories are in a meal. Chain restaurants are able to feasibly and accurately post calorie information because they have highly standardized recipes and portions.
When people have access to calorie information, they use it. Nearly three quarters of consumers say they look at calorie information on packaged foods in supermarkets, and about half say that nutrition information affects their food selections. The Health Department estimates that this regulation could reduce the number of people who suffer from obesity by 150,000 over the next five years, preventing more than 30,000 cases of diabetes.