It is a scary fact that when eating out at restaurants, one plate of food could come close or even exceed a person’s recommended daily caloric intake. This is a trend becoming more and more prominent, where even dishes such as appetizers meet or exceed 1,000 calories alone. For chain restaurants, nutritional information is usually viewable online, but many will not take the extra step to obtain this information, or simply do not know that the information is available.
Now, though, a game-changer is being introduced for chain restaurants in America that may influence eating habits of consumers. By December of 2016, it will be mandatory for restaurant chains to put caloric information of dishes right on their menus. Some businesses have already started doing this, but a study shows this is presumably done less to inform customers and more to set themselves apart from higher-calorie alternatives. The chains providing this information voluntarily are priding themselves in being the lower-calorie option.
There are two main outcomes that listing calories may have. The first is that consumers may begin to make more informed choices when dining out since the information is readily available and comes straight from the restaurant, so it can be considered to be as accurate as possible. The second major influence this shift may have is to encourage restaurants to limit and cut calories where possible. If similar foods can be produced with fewer calories, fats, salts, sugars, etc., then this will be a benefit to both the provider and the consumer. Presumably, consumers will opt for a healthier option, and providers continue to be the option that is chosen over other chains.
Though the overall impact of the decision to list calories is still unclear, it is good to see a more health-oriented approach toward restaurant dining. It can be easy to let good habits slip when there is a plethora of food options and it is overwhelming to try to decipher calorie counts of each meal. I feel that this new mandatory implementation will greatly influence the choices people make, and hopefully continue them onto a path toward a healthy lifestyle.