Blog | Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Calorie counting as a class issue

It may still be a little fuzzy how health care reform will affect insurance coverage, but there is one area where it's already having a clear impact, according to the Washington Post: menus.

A lesser-known aspect of the proposed legislation is that it will mandate calorie posting of the sort currently done in New York City for restaurants with more than 20 locations nationwide. The WashPo story reports on the positive impacts that publicization of calories has public health--apparently restaurants offer more healthy dishes, and diners swarm to them. Which is interesting, because the last time we discussed this issue, researchers were reporting that people actually consumed more calories after the stats were posted.

The difference is that the earlier study was conducted in cheap restaurants in poor neighborhoods. The new story focused on higher-end establishments like Starbucks, Uno Chicago Grill and Le Pain Quotidien (I've never even heard of that last one, but you don't see many French names in the ghetto). The article also notes how popular Starbucks' nutritional info iPhone app has been.

It's further confirmation of the theory that the people paying attention to calorie listings are not the impoverished obese who need the help, but instead probably the same women who buy a book to calm their fears about missing a recommended serving of vegetables.