Will Posting Calories on Menus Really Change the Way We Eat?

McDonalds Puts Calories on Menuby Gillian Stephen

Beginning next year, all restaurant chains with 20 or more locations will need to provide calorie information on their menus. Some cities and some restaurants have chosen to begin posting calorie information already, but new regulation by Obama’s government will make it nationwide.

One of the major players in the market, McDonald’s, recently decided to post this information nationwide ahead of the regulation being implemented. McDonald’s president Jan Fields has been reported as saying that it is not changing what customers are ordering.

Another major chain that is already posting calorie information is Starbucks. In a recent report by Today.com, a woman in her 60’s lost over 80lbs in 3 years going from 190lbs to 114lbs, by only eating Starbucks food and tracking her calories. Losing weight brought her many health benefits from being able to become a kidney donor, more energy, no sleep apnea and her joints stopped aching. To maintain her weight and ensure she stays healthy she is still eating Starbucks food.

Some recent research was done on the effect of calorie posting of quick fix and sit down fast food chains in Seattle, by a group of researchers from nutrition and pediatric institutions. It looked at peoples’ eating habits at both 6 and 18 months after the introduction of calorie posting. The results found that there was a decrease in the amount of calories consumed and an improvement in the participant’s diets at 18 months after calories were posted.

Margo Wooten, the Director of Nutrition at the Center of Science in the Public Interest says, ‘Obesity isn’t the kind of thing where one day you wake up and you are fat. We gradually and slowly gain weight over time. So even if only some people are swayed to make slightly better choices there’s a big benefit to providing calorie information.’

Part of the solution to lose weight is the reduction in calories. Other important areas are meals being nutritionally balanced, so that we gain the required nutrients from our food, as well as the calories being sufficient to maintain our energy levels for day today activities and any extra needs we may have. This may not be easily achieved from always eating out, nor would it be an affordable option for many. It would be better to buy your own food and make it yourself more often than not. So have a selection of whole grains, lean cuts of red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, fruit and vegetables always at hand.

Calorie information at restaurants is beneficial in assisting weight loss and weight maintenance. At the same time education in making better food choices and simple but nutritious meals to cook, would also help to drive down the rates of obesity and disease.

Are your food choices based on the calorie information? Would having calorie information being posted at restaurants dictate your food choices? Thanks for commenting.

Gillian Stephen is the chief blogger of Fitnessbuster where she helps to support you in achieving healthy eating goals and to incorporate regular exercise into your schedule. Follow Gillian on Twitter and Facebook


  1. says

    I saw them posted at McDonalds and to be honest I didn’t even really read it. I don’t eat Mcdonalds burgers just fries and drinks but I think people will still buy what they want to eat no matter if they post calories or not. I think to get people to start to listen is to have veggies cheaper because right now fast food chains are cheaper than buying a meal to cook.

    • aroundtheplate says

      Thanks for stopping by Kita! I’m still on the fence as to how helpful the calorie information will be. I tend to look because I love nutrition and I’m curious, but I don’t know if everyone finds calorie information that interesting. :) I hope it helps people make more informed decisions about their food. Many people eat fast food because it is cheap,although if you’re not ordering off the dollar menu, it can add up pretty quickly. I’m hoping this will be a step in the right direction and I hope that people’s pursuit of eating healthy doesn’t stop in the fast food line. :) ~Kati

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