Do You Want Nutrition Information on Menu Boards?

wendys2If you knew the doughnut you were about to order had 480 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat, would you still order it? Maybe. But according to a new Canadian study, maybe not.

The study, which is due to be completed this month, examined the impact of publishing nutrition information directly on menu boards. It’s a practice that you’ll already see in places like Philadelphia and New York. This is in contrast to the previous practice of providing nutrition information upon request or through the company’s website.

It’s not that any of us think doughnuts are healthy. But when we see how unhealthy that doughnut is through objective data points like calories and fat, the impact on your health becomes much harder to ignore. Moreover, it then enables us consumers to compare that doughnut to other options – like the whole-grain oatmeal with just 160 calories.

In a first wave of surveys, researchers found that adding the nutrition information to the menu board resulted in 73 fewer calories consumed. It also resulted in less sodium and fat.

Of course, this is just one small data point in one small study – and the menu nutrition information has its fair share of critics and controversies. Is it more important to show calories or fat? Total fat or just the unhealthy saturated or trans fats? How will consumers be able to interpret this information? Do people realize that the 13 grams of saturated fat in a doughnut is 65% of their recommended daily limit?

It’s not THE answer. But it could be one of many; as we all strive to create healthy lives, this could prove to be a valuable step in a very long journey.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think. Would you find it helpful if restaurants labeled their menu boards with nutrition information?

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  1. Tom Flanagan says:

    It would be great if it could be expanded to bakeries as well, to help you decide whether to get a jelly doughnut coated with sugar or a cinnamon doughnut. Which one is the lessor of two evils and my how much?

  2. I think people are going to eat it anyway. That is what they’re there for sadly. I think we should better inform people on nutrition and creating healthy habits instead of trying to show them calories that aren’t going to change their mind so much. I knew if I was in the drive thru at MCD, I am not going to leave the drive thru and go eat healthy because I saw the nutrition label. They might pick a LITTLE bit of a healthier choice but at the same time “one cigarette is a pack of cigarettes”.

  3. i think all prepared food should carry a standard nutrition label similar to the ones that appear on pkg. foods in the super market. it should be standardized, state by state, but based on strict federal guidelines. the restaurants, and food sellers should pick up the cost of making the information available, easy to find, understandable, and honest. give em a tax break for the cost of the projects printing costs..

  4. It would be great if all prepared food should carry a standard nutrition label. Not only calories but proteins, fat, etc. as well.

  5. Brian Martin says:

    Yes, yes I do. I nearly had a stroke when I saw how close to a stroke Wendy’s salads could get me. RARELY eat fast food, but when I do, I want to know what I’m consuming.

  6. I think it’s an excellent idea to start putting the nutrition facts for fatty foods out in the open. Although the world still contains those oblivious people who will completely overlook the calories in their food, there are still those who want to know exactly what their eating. I certainly do, and that’s why I look up the nutrition information of my food that I’m going to buy before I buy it. So it would definitely save me some time if resuraunts had the facts right in front of the consumer.

  7. Tom Hunter says:

    I would rather have it than not have it. It keeps me aware of nutrition. I was shocked when I saw some of the calorie content at Starbucks, and it has steered away from things I used to buy, thinking that they were not all that bad (blueberry scone, the doughnut). Even at McDonald’s, and I rarely eat there (only in a pinch), it is helpful. There are some breakfast options that are not so bad, but most of the food there is awful. Salads are not so bad there, and the egg white McMuffin is OK.

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