Seven years after calorie counts were mandated in fast-food restaurants in New York City, people do not eat fewer calories at all. If anything the trend has been for people to eat more calories on average. And every year people notice the calorie counts less – they seem to be fading into the background noise.
A new study shows it’s simply a failure:
- Politico: Calorie counts on menus aren’t working, new research shows
- Health Affairs: Five Years Later: Awareness Of New York City’s Calorie Labels Declined, With No Changes In Calories Purchased
Next year calorie labelling in fast-food restaurants will be mandatory in the entire US. Time will tell if they will be less useless outside of New York City, but all indications are that they will be a giant waste of time and space.
A hundred years ago almost nobody knew about calories and almost everyone was slim. Now everybody knows about calories and most of the US population is overweight. It’s not a problem of calorie counting. It’s a problem of food quality.
The problem is that the quality of our food determines how many calories we want to eat – and how many calories we spend. Worrying about calories first is putting the cart before the horse.
That’s why calorie counts aren’t working.