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November 02, 2021

Posted calorie info has no affect on customers, report suggests

At the best of times, humans are rational. We see wrong and we right it. We’re able to exorcise stubbornness and ignorance at most every turn.

At the worst, though, we’re pretty obstinate. Cancer who? I’ll show you where you can shove your lifetime of smoking. That kind of thing.

This? This probably fits in that latter category, I’d say.

As you might have heard, New York was the first state in the U.S. last year to mandate chain restaurants include the caloric content of all foods on its menus.

The idea: simple. Show our fat ***es just how much junk we’re eating and we’ll have the good sense to give it a rest.

A pretty reasonable premise, right? It sure seems to work on paper, yet the New York Times reports we, uh, don’t exactly live our lives on paper.

According to the news outlet, such caloric heads-ups have had – at best – a “modest” impact on the way New Yorkers order their food.

In fact, one report published earlier last month suggests showing the staggering nutritional deficiencies of some foods had no measurable affect on customers at all.

“When … researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labelling law went into effect,” the study reads.

City officials, in response to the negative findings, have blamed the results on skewed methods. Preliminary reports tested ordering trends of mainly lower-income neighbourhoods, and New York’s health department suggests fast food promos like Subway’s $5 footlong deal have tilted the conclusions against substantive progress.

But clearly, narrowed results or not, there’s a bigger issue at stake here.

Only about 56% of customers said they noticed the posted calorie information in the first place, and an even less promising 15% said it had any influence on what they ordered.

“Dietary changes come slowly,” Dr. Lynn Silver, who presented the study’s data at a meeting of the Obesity Society, told the Times. “We’re not expecting to see miracles.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...