Restaurants, Vending Machines to Display Calorie Counts: Will Customers Care?
7 months ago
That'll be $4 for 400 calories please...
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold a health care law provision made by President Barack Obama that required national restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts of their items. Though the timetable for carrying out the requirement has not yet been set—industry experts suspect early 2013 following the election season—companies have already begun abiding by the new rule.
Last month, McDonald's, the world's biggest hamburger chain, announced that it would post caloric information on in-store menu boards and at drive-thrus nationwide. (The cities of New York and Philadelphia, as well as the entire state of California, have already imposed the mandate.)
Now, the American Beverage Association, which represents the makers of such soft drinks as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, has revealed that as early as next year, calorie counts will appear on the vending machine buttons people press to select a drink. The machines will also sport small decals with suggestions like "Check Then Choose."
With one-third of Americans categorized as obese, and another third as overweight, will the efforts be enough to curb the nation's crisis?
Dr. Richard George, department chair and professor of Food Marketing at St. John's University, says any attempt made to fight the epidemic is a positive one, but believes it is younger generations that will be most will be most impacted by the change.
"We have a tendency in America to talk skinny and eat fat," George said. "So I'm not sure it's going to change the decision-making process, but people should have the opportunity to make choices based on full disclosure. The mothers of today's children are different than their own mothers were; they're really concerned with this issue and are looking for clues and signals, so it may not make a big difference overall but it will on people who are forming new behaviors, the younger generations."
Currently, 17 percent of America's children are considered obese. Psychologist Kelly Brownell, who directs the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, told NPR that the food industry spends $100 million a year marketing junk food—just to them.