Look Before You Order

Calorie counts may be coming to a menu near you

Counting your calories when you go out to eat might get a lot easier if the state legislature takes up a bill requiring menus to include each item’s calorie content.

Friday is the deadline for Public Health Committee in the General Assembly to vote on state bill 1080, which would require all restaurants and even grocery stores with hot food bars to display the total number of calories for each menu item. 

What about salad bars and buffets without menus, you say? Got it covered, according to SB 1080, restaurants shall "list the total number of calories per serving per item in close proximity to where the items in such arrangement are offered for sale." Ugh, bill speak.

The point is, by supplying the calorie content of food items, health officials hope that customers will think before they eat. Many times when people eat out, they're not making healthy choices because the cold hard facts aren't staring them in the face. 

For instance, you’d be inclined to think fruit smoothies are healthy; but there are some places where a fruit smoothie has the same, or more calories than a slice of pizza.
Try some more facts on for size: a plain bagel (370 calories) without cream cheese at Dunkin' Donuts has 120 more calories than a jelly filled donut (250 calories) or that the Chicken Strips Basket (650 calories) at Friendly's has almost 400 less calories than the Chicken Quesadillas (1,020 calories).
Ten localities and states around the country have already passed menu-labeling policies, including New York City, Philadelphia and the state of CaliforniaSimilar legislation is in the works in Massachusetts and even has far away as Great Britain as states and countries try to tackle the ever-growing obesity issue.
The good news is a lot of fast food chains are already thinking along those lines. KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut, have all agreed to introduce calorie information on their menus. So it will be easier to avoid that Double Whopper with cheese (960 calories) and opt for a salad.
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