Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Calorie Posting Law Brings a Shot of Nutritional Reality

This week, many Starbucks customers have been confronted with a decision beyond the familiar terrain of tall, grandé and venti: though a vanilla frappucino may be worth $4.05, but is it worth 480 calories? Calorie consciousness has become a bit easier for New Yorkers since last Wednesday’s court decision requiring chain restaurants to prominently post the calorie contents of their menu items. The law represents a victory in the city’s attempt to combat rising obesity rates. Despite a further ruling that delayed calorie-posting mandates until at least April 26, Cosi, Starbucks and Chipotle were among chains that chose to disclose calorie information before the law takes effect. Customer reactions ranged from blaisé to alarmed as they confronted the nutritional reality of their regular orders. “Wow, the blueberry scone is 480 calories. It makes me not buy, for sure,” said Starbuck’s customer Helena Hungar. Chipotle customer Ralph Arend was unmoved: “If you’re really concerned, you can cook for yourself.” But for those who rely on fast food restaurants for cheap accessible food, especially in neighborhoods where there are few other options, calorie posting may serve as a clear reminder of the inequities of access to nutritious food and limited nutritional options available even among competing chain restaurants.

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