The NYC Health Department Launches Calorie Education Campaign

October 6th, 2008

“Read ‘em Before you Eat ‘em”

The Health Department advises in a new campaign launched today to help New Yorkers make the most of the city’s calorie-posting rules. Under the New York City Health Code, chain restaurants are now required to post calorie counts for food items on menus and menu boards. The rule took effect this summer, after a federal court upheld it and an appellate court refused to delay enforcement while the industry tries again to overturn it. The new campaign – five ads appearing in 1,000 New York City Subway cars for the next three months – is designed to help New Yorkers see how quickly fast-food calories add up. Many are unaware that a typical adult needs only 2,000 calories a day to maintain a steady weight. Even fewer know how easy it is to overshoot that goal while eating on the go.

The campaign shows how deceptive appearances can be. One poster shows an apple raisin muffin that looks harmless but carries a stout 470 calories – nearly a quarter of an adult’s daily allowance. “If you’re eating it as a snack,” said Cathy Nonas, director of the Health Department’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program, “you may want to split it with a friend.” Nonas, a registered dietician, will host a blog on calorie counting later this week at nyc.gov/health.

“Many people end up overweight just by going with the flow,” said Nonas. “Now that this information is available in chain restaurants, it’s easy to make healthier choices. Once you set a daily calorie budget, there are lots of ways to live within it.”

As the new ads make clear, you don’t have to give up all indulgences to eat fewer calories. By ordering a diet soda and a small order of fries with your cheeseburger, for example, you can cut the caloric impact by half – from 1,250 to 670.

The Health Impact of Calorie Listing in Chain Restaurants

Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in NYC. Eating too many calories causes weight gain – which can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

New Yorkers eat more than a third of their calories away from home. To help them make healthier choices in restaurants, the New York City Board of Health passed a regulation requiring chains to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards.

When people have access to calorie information, they use it. Health Department surveys have shown that when restaurant patrons use calorie information in deciding what to order, they average nearly 100 fewer calories in each meal purchased. The Health Department estimates that posting calories on menu boards and menus will reduce the number of people who suffer from obesity by 150,000 over the next five years, preventing more than 30,000 cases of diabetes.

nyc.gov/health

Related Resource: Are You Pouring On The Pounds?, Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar

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