Saturday, July 20, 2013
Giving McDonald's eaters calorie guides did not curb bad eating habits
Educating people on the number of calories they should eat may not help them make better choices.
A new study published July 18 in the American Journal of Public Health showed that providing people with calorie guidelines did not help them make better food choices, even when calorie counts for each item were available on the menu.
Several states and cities in the U.S. require that chain restaurants reveal calorie information for their items. Congress has already passed legislation to develop a national calorie labeling system in order to aid health care reform.
However, previous studies have shown that listing calories hasn't exactly helped Americans trim down their waistlines. It hasn't helped that fast food and restaurant food still remain calorie-laden. A 14-year study showed that fast food restaurants have only made minimal improvements to the nutritional value of their items, and 25 percent of Americans eat fast food two or more times a week.
"The general inability of calorie labeling to result in an overall reduction in the number of calories consumed has already been pretty widely shown," study author Julie Downs, an associate research professor of social and decision sciences in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, said to HealthDay. "So that's nothing new. But in the face of that, there has been the growing thought that perhaps the problem is that people don't know how to use the information without some framework, some guidance."