Food is one of the few guilty pleasures that people indulge in without considering the consequences. People often forget that calories mean extra pounds and harder workouts. In many cities and states, federal law is now requiring restaurants to display the amount of calories in their food items. In addition, the number of minutes needed to burn of a food items is also going to be displayed. The effects of this are mixed, confirming both positive and negative results for displaying calorie counts on menus.
Factors like time and budget affect food choices for many people. A quick burger at lunch may be the closest thing to work. A salad may be the cheapest option for a snack. These and other factors affect how many calories people intake. In light of these changes to the menu, a series of studies have been performed throughout the nation to test people’s reaction to knowing how many calories and exercise is entailed in a food choice. A study with Texas Christian University observed the food choice of 300 men and women before and after being exposed to menus with calorie counts and exercise times. The food options available ranged from salads to burgers, designed to test food choice extremes. The results confirmed that when people were able to see the calories and exercise involved in a food choice, they consumed fewer calories. In many cases, hundreds of calories less than they normally would.
Creatures of Habit
Other studies have been performed at major chain restaurants. It’s interesting to note that federal law will mandate the display of calories and exercise requirements at chain restaurants nationwide. Studies have been carried out at a large number of chain restaurants, and the results confirm that people’s eating habits were little affected by being able to see the amount of calories they were consuming. It’s also important to state that the study done by Texas Christian University was conducted at smaller restaurants. These places had less frequent visitors, and patrons needed to study the menu before orders. In the case of major chain restaurants, people often frequent these places multiple times a week. Orders are memorized and buying food becomes routine.
Statistics also show that most people go out to eat to enjoy themselves. Counting calories is considered frivolous and tedious for people looking to grab a quick meal or enjoy a meal with friends. People are less likely to count calories if they are looking to have fun, relax, and “enjoy” their food.
Habits Rule Diet
Humans are creatures of habit. If someone regularly eats healthy, they are going to do so with or without a calorie number next to their food item. The same applies to someone who has overall unhealthy eating habits. Putting the number of calories or exercise required to burn off a certain meal will not change habits. At best, it will raise awareness and prompt people looking to make healthier choices to take action.