An idea being cooked up in the Ontario legislature aimed at restaurants should be given consideration elsewhere in the bid to help people improve their health.
Draft legislation would require chain restaurants, plus stores that sell meals for immediate consumption, to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards as a means of helping fight the growing problem of obesity.
It’s a logical move. Doctors and dietitians have been encouraging people for years to become label readers when they buy groceries, to educate themselves about fat and salt content – and about desirable nutrients while they’re at it.
But we don’t have access to such valuable information when ordering a quick meal. That might not be a problem for people who do so once in a blue moon, but today’s lifestyles see people eating at a fast-food joint or lunch counter a lot more often.
Even the more diet conscious among us might expect food and beverage choices to be common sense. We know pretty much which foods are laden with fat and calories.
But it can be deceiving. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, in discussing the legislation, said a raisin bran muffin at some fast-food outlets have more calories than a cheeseburger. Some blended coffee beverages contain about a third of the calories adults are supposed to consume in a day. What about those salads starting to appear on menu boards? Great stuff, but what gets poured on them, maybe not so much.
There are a number of factors behind the epidemic of obesity in North America, to be sure, but the fast food trend has often been pointed to as one culprit.
For these operations, this will add some burden, but such is the cost of doing business. And they do lots of it. This would be a regulatory cost they can easily swallow.
This will help some people trying to get a better grip on their health. The numbers would work as a reminder for others. It would eliminate the second-guessing and provide an eye-opener for many.