One Last Point: I've got your calories

July 02, 2013 10:24 pm

One of the requirements of Obamacare is that chain restaurants with more than 20 establishments place caloric counts on their menus and the make all the other “health” data available.

The law isn’t in effect yet but a number of fast-food joints and places like Starbucks are getting ahead of the game — trying to look good to the customers they are pumping full sugar, salt and who knows what else — and putting the information on their menus now.

The impetus behind the requirement is so that Americans can make better choices when they are standing in line trying to decide between a raspberry scone (480 calories) or a spinach and feta breakfast wrap (290 calories) to go with their 20-ounce Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino (590 calories) for a mid-morning snack.

Now, that doesn’t sound too bad but it might not have dawned on Starbucks’ aficionados that the total calories in one of those two choices (1070 or 880) is close to half of a normal person’s daily recommended caloric intake. (According to the Department of Agriculture the recommended caloric intake ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 calories depending on a person’s activity levels.)

That’s ridiculous, and it gets even worse when people are making choices in a fast-food restaurant, but the real reason the directive is pointless is because the healthy decision is made before you step foot in any of those establishments.

I’m not saying no one should eat at McDonald’s or drink a little slice of heaven from Starbucks. I am saying that people need to realize that their choice to be healthy stops at the door and not at the counter.

Maybe if the USDA stopped forcing restaurants to reprint their menus every three years — driving up prices in the process — and stopped giving the corn industry subsidies something could be done about the price of real food.

It should cost less to feed a family of four a meal made from real, whole foods then it does to take them out to dinner at McDonald’s. 

And until it does, America’s obesity problem will not disappear. 

People will notice the calorie counts for a few weeks and then it will be just another small print item competing for space on an already jam-packed menu.