Americans Want to See More Calorie Labeling, Survey Suggests

Americans Want to See More Calorie Labeling, Survey Suggests
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There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his attempt to ban large sugary drinks, and the uproar from New York City residents that has followed. A recent poll, however, finds that a large majority of people favor more information about calorie content, not less.

According to a poll released by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, 70% of Americans favor movie theaters listing calories on their menu boards and another 68% favor chain restaurants listing calories for alcoholic beverages.

These intriguing results come as the Obama administration is wrapping up regulations that would require calorie counts displayed at chain restaurants and similar food establishments. A draft of the proposed regulations released in 2011 exempted alcoholic beverages, movie theaters, hotels, stadiums, and other venues that sell these restaurant-type foods, even though the 2010 law establishing calorie labeling included those places.

According to the survey, 77% of Americans want calorie labeling for hot dogs, pizza slices, and burritos available in convenience stores and another 81% favor supermarkets providing calorie information for their prepared restaurant type foods, such as rotisserie chickens, sandwiches, soups, and the like.

It seems, at least from the survey, that Americans are interested in knowing the calorie contents of the food they are eating. According to nutrition policy director Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "menu labeling at chain restaurants will be enormously helpful."

The restaurant industry largely agrees, so it seems, that requiring calorie labeling at places such as supermarkets, convenience stores, and movie theaters promotes a level playing field for the consumer.

"But it doesn't make sense to create loopholes for certain companies when that's not what Congress intended and it's not what the people want," Wootan continues. "If McDonald's is providing calorie counts for its sodas, why shouldn't 7-Eleven or Regal Cinemas? If Cracker Barrel has to list calories for its salad bar items, why shouldn't Whole Foods or Safeway?"