The Curry Coastal Pilot

The latest fad diet is being cooked up in the Oregon Legislature. Rep. Tina Kotek's diet plan andndash; House Bill 2726 andndash; is that chain restaurants would be required to post nutritional information next to menu items.

The Portland Democrat wants all orders to come with a side of calories counted and an itemization of saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium. The stats would be printed as large as the prices.

If the bill passes, nobody expects it will change the eating habits of Oregonians overnight. The hope is with more information in front of consumers when they are making their choices, they might make healthier choices.

Maybe they will. Maybe they won't.

The problem with the bill is twofold.

First, the key to healthy eating and a healthy weight is much broader than the Legislature can address. It's a relentless series of lifestyle choices.

Unless the Legislature wants to strong-arm Oregonians by enforcing healthy eating, mandating regular physical activity and carefully monitoring calories in and calories out, it can't compel people to be healthier. Kotek's pursuit of happiness may be about eating healthy, exercising and finding ways to make other Oregonians do the same. More nutrition data won't make that the goal of all Oregonians.

Second, this bill is written as if chain restaurants have a monopoly on calorie-rich, unhealthy offerings. Maybe Kotek doesn't like restaurants that have been successful and have been able to expand. Maybe she thinks people who like to eat at chains need the firm guiding hand of her tutelage. Maybe it's seen as a gracious concession to protect small businesses from having to cope with the costs of complying with a state mandate.

This bill is built on the dubious assertion that the labeling is necessary. On top of that, it's unfair.

- Wescom News Service