Where Would You Like to See Calorie Labeling?

Published on April 07 2011 - 3:37 PM
With Americans consuming about a third of their total calories on food prepared outside of the home, it’s welcome news (at least to me) that last week, the Food and Drug Administration released proposed calorie labeling rules for food sold in vending machines and on menus in chain restaurants with 20 or more locations.

Menu labeling laws already exist in 18 states, cities and counties, including my home state Vermont, as well as California, New York City, Philadelphia and King County, Washington.

I love having nutrition information to refer to as I’m deciding what to order. (Though some argue nutrition information doesn’t influence people to make healthier choices. See EatingWell advisor Rachel Johnson’s post, Is posting calorie counts on restaurant menus enough to help us be healthier?)

While FDA’s rules are a good start, it doesn’t go far enough. The labeling rules don’t apply to movie theaters and airplanes—and other establishments, such as bowling alleys, whose primary purpose is not to sell food. Without nutrition information it’s too easy to unknowingly go overboard: for example, at the movies, if you order the biggest popcorn, a large soda and then eat half your friends’ M&Ms, you could consume nearly 2,400 calories—that’s like eating nearly an entire large Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza by yourself, says Nicci Micco, EatingWell’s Editor-at-Large and a weight loss expert. (See her post The Best & Worst Movie-Theater Snacks here.)

Those are just my thoughts. I want to hear what you think, so take our poll!

Where would you like to see calorie labeling?

A) vending machines

B) alcohol

C) movie theaters

D) chain restaurants

E) all of the above

F) none of the above

Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.