Calorie counts at fast food restaurants aren’t working

A study at New York University has found that the availability of nutritional information at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and Burger King have not affected people’s fast food eating habits, according to UPI.

The study sought to find the effect of New York City’s requirement for fast food restaurants to include caloric information on their menu boards.

A survey conducted at New York City University in 2008 indicated that a little under half of consumers even noticed the calorie counts on menu boards at fast food restaurants. The survey, which was conducted just after the requirements were put into affect, noticed that just one in ten customers were influenced to change their order based on the caloric information.

Researchers suggest that the numbers have dropped since the 2008 survey, meaning that even less are affected by the information.

The new survey intends to challenge the calorie information display requirement and how effective of a tactic it really is in the fight against obesity. This is in reaction to the Affordable Care Act, which will mandate all fast food restaurants display caloric information on menu boards starting in December.

Dr. Brian Elbel, a researcher at NYU Langone Medical Center, criticized the viability of the requirement. “Our study suggests that menu labeling, in particular at fast-food restaurants, will not on its own lead to any lasting reductions in calories consumed,” he said in a press release.

In 2013, researchers reported a 45 percent of respondents noticed the calorie counts, which represented a six-point drop from the results of the study in 2008. In 2014, the percentage of the customers that noticed the calorie information dropped to 37 percent.

“People are at least reading the information, some are even using it,” Ebel said. “Labels may yet work at non-fast-food, family-style restaurant chains, or for specific groups of people with a greater need than most to consume fewer calories and eat more healthily. We will have to wait and see, while continuing to monitor and analyze the policy’s impact.”



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