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Obamacare’s Menu Calorie Labeling Won’t Impact Obesity Rates


Included in Obama’s health-care law is a provision that mandates all chain restaurants with twenty or more locations include calorie information on the menu. To further ensure consumers can easily access the information, the law requires that the calories counts be posted next to the specific menu item, and be printed in the same size font.

But a new study suggests that this will have no impact on the nation’s obesity crisis. Prominently posted calorie counts have little impact on the decisions children’s parents and teens make when choosing what items to order, according to a study published today in the International Journal of Obesity.

The researchers focused on what children and teens in New York City and Newark, N.J. ordered at fast food chains before and after New York City mandated restaurants to post calorie information prominently in 2008. And while 57 percent of New York teens noticed the new calorie counts, only 9 percent said it impacted their meal choice. (Seventy-two percent of teens said “taste” was their biggest priority in deciding what to eat.) Ultimately, researchers “found no statistically significant differences in calories purchased before and after labeling,” regardless of whether the purchaser was a teen or the child’s parents.

In other words, looks like these menu calorie counts will be just another regulation that imposes costs on businesses without creating any societal benefits.