Starting in March 2011, all chain restaurants and vending machines must list the calorie counts of all their foods where customers can see them while ordering — if they have over 20 locations, says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Will this help people with weight loss?
It might help, if people knew how many calories they were to consume every day. On average, it’s about 1,800 calories a day for women; 2,200 calories a day for men. However, if you’re bigger, more active, younger, etc., you can have more calories.
The mom & pop Mexican food restaurant down the street where I like to get tacos sometimes won’t be affected because they only have one location. I already did the mental calorie count in my head a long time ago with those tacos because that’s what I do as part of living the thin lifestyle. I figure about 200-250 calories each, which puts these tacos in the treat-only category; two tacos are 400-500 calories.
To test myself, I looked at Taco Bell’s website for similar tacos, which are 170 calories apiece, or, 340 calories for two, so I was about right with the guessing on my other tacos.
For parents trying to watch calories for their kids, a McDonald’s Happy Meal has 700 calories for a hamburger, fries and small Coke. The trick for parents is knowing what junior may have had for lunch or snacks at school that day, or how much is he going to eat that night. And, did he get the recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise that day?
It can get so complicated that I’m not sure many customers are even going to notice — or care — about the new calorie count sitting innocently next to their food description or delicious photo at the fast food restaurant.
As for vending machines, people who are food label readers already know the calorie count of most treats that emerge from vending machines, so that should not be a huge mystery or revelation.
Many fast food restaurants have had calorie listings available for years already. The question has been asked given the available data is this: ”Has this helped with the obesity problem in the United States?” Studies say, Not Really. Or, one study said people haved saved maybe 27 calories per meal.
Calorie counting, of which I am a huge fan, may make people a little more conscious of what they are eating. Perhaps they will order the regular hamburger instead of the double bacon cheeseburger (a potential savings of over 1,000 calories), and for this I am happy, because that may help people start living the thin lifestyle. Click here to see the calorie counts of many different foods.
At least people can start making more educated guesses, and maybe people who never thought about calories before in their life might start thinking about them now and try to eat less instead of being baffled as to why they keep gaining weight for some reason — when it may just be that they are consuming too many calories. (also see: Harvard Study Reveals, Calories In, Calories Out and Myth Buster: 3,500 Calories in a Pound; Are all Calories Created Equally?)
For more on this topic, see: AdAge: FDA Unveils Guidelines for Mandatory Calorie Counts for Fast Foods and Vending Machines.
Also, see this post for my favorite fast food restaurants: How to Eat Fast Food and Stay Thin: Top 6 Fast Food Restaurants.